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Full text of "The Confessions of St. Augustine"

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St. Augustine Reading 

From a fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli 



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THE HARVARD CLASSICS 
EDITED BY CHARLES W ELIOT LL D 



THE CONFESSIONS OF 
ST AUGUSTINE 

TRANSLATED BY EDWARD B PUSEY 

THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

BY THOMAS A KEMPIS 

TRANSLATED BY WILLIAM BENHAM 

WITH INTRODUCTIONS, NOTES 
AND ILLUSTRATIONS 




'DR ELIOT'S FIVE FOOT SHELF OF BOOKS" 




P F COLLIER & SON "^fh^ 



Copyright, 1909 
By p. F. Collier & Son 






TABLE OF CONTENTS 



THE FIRST BOOK 

Confessions of the greatness and unsearchableness of God, of God's 
mercies in infancy and boyhood, and human wilfulness; of his 
own sins of idleness, abuse of his studies, and of God's gifts up 
to his fifteenth year 



THE SECOND BOOK 

Object of these Confessions. Further ills of idleness developed in 
his sixteenth year. Evils of ill society, which betrayed him into 
theft 23 



THE THIRD BOOK 

His residence at Carthage from his seventeenth to his nineteenth year. 
Source of his disorders. Love of shows. Advance in studies, and 
love of wisdom. Distaste for Scripture. Led astray to the Mani- 
r hjpans . R efutation nf 'innif nf thfir tf""*' GfieTof his moflier 
Monnica at his heresy7 and prayers for his conversion. Her vision 
from God, and answer through a Bishop 



THE FOURTH BOOK 

Augustine's life from nineteen to eight-and-twenty; t ^i;nself a ManL- 
chaean. and seducing others to the same heresy; pS-tiai obedience 
amidst vanity and sin; consulting astrologers, only partially shaken 
herein; loss of an early friend, who is converted by being bap- 
tised when in a swoon; reflections on grief, on real and unreal 
friendship, and love of fame; writes on " the fair and fit," yet 
cannot rightly, though God had given him great talents, since he 
entertained wrong notions of God; and so even his knowledge he 
applied ill 



THE FIFTH BOOK 

St. Augustine's twenty-ninth year. Faustus, a snare of Satan to many, 
made an instrument of deliverance to St. Augustine, by showing 

ihp ip^nnranrp nf thf \TaniV^pi.g nn tVi^Sf thJngS Wh^ffin th^Y P''"- 

f essed to have divine knowledg e. Augustine gives up all thought 
ol going turther among the Manichees: is guided to Rome and 
Milan, where he hears St. Ambrose, leaves the Manichees, and 
becomes again a Catechumen in the Church Catholic .... 6s 

I— HC VII 1 



2 TABLE OF CONTENTS 

PAQI 

THE SIXTH BOOK 

Arrival of Monnica at Milan; her obedience to St. Ambrose, and his 
value for her; St. Ambrose's habits; Augustine's gradual aban- 
donment of error; finds that he has blamed the Church Catholic 
wrongly; desire of absolute certainty, but struck witli the contrary 
analogy of God's natural Providence; how shaken in his worldly 
pursuits; God's guidance of his friend Alypius; Augustine debates 
with himself and his friends about their mode of life; his invet- 
erate sins, and dread of judgment 8a 

THE SEVENTH BOOK 

Augustine's thirty-first year; gradually extricated from his errors, but 
still with material conceptions of God; much aided by an argu- 



ment of Nebridius; sees that the c^uyp of siy^ |igs in free-will, 
rejects the Manichj:an _riFr'"iy, h:i "7inn"t nlt^c^th^r fmbnr° tnf 
TOctnne ot the CJiurcn; recovered from the belief in Astrology, 



V^ but miserably oerolexed ahnut the origin of evil: is led to find in 

' ttiP piat^ntf*" *'''"' ^P'^'^ "f the dnrtnnp nt th^ ^Tivir^itv n f^thg 

Word, but not of His h nmili^ijpn ; hence he obtains clearer notions 
of Cod's majesty, out, not knowing Christ to be the Mediator, 
remains estranged from Him; all his doubts removed by the 
study of Holy Scripture, especially St. Paul loa 



THE EIGHTH BOOK 

Augustine's thirty-second year. He consults Simplicianus; from him 
hears the history of the conversion of Victorinus, and longs to 
devote himself entirely to God, but is mastered by his old habits; 
is still further roused by the history of St. Antony, and of the 
conversion of two courtiers; during a severe struggle hears a 
voice from heaven, opens Scripture, and is converted, with his 
/ friend Alypius. His mother's visions fulfilled 123 

THE NINTH BOOK 

Augustine determines to devote his life to God, and to abandon his 
profession of Rhetoric, quietly however; retires to the countrjr to 
prepare himself to receive the grace of Baptism, and is baptised 
with Alypius and his son Adeodatus. At Ostia, on his way to 
Africa, his mother Monnica dies, in her fifty-sixth year, the thirty- 
third of Augustine. Her life and character 144 

THE TENTH BOOK 

Having in the former books spoken of himself before his receiving the 
grace of Baptism, in this Augustine confesses what he then was. 
But first he enquires by what faculty we can know God at all; 
whence he enlarges on the mysterious character of the memory, 
wherein God, being made known, dwells, but which could not 
discover Him. Then he examines his own trials under the triple 
division of temptation, " lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and 
pride"; what Christian continency prescribes as to each. Un 
Christ the Onlv Mediator, who heals and will heal all infirmities i6> 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

AuRELius AuGUSTiNUs, better known as Saint Augustine, woi 
born of poor parents in the small town of Tho/gaste in Numidia, 
North Africa, A. D. 354. His father, Patricius, a pagan of 
somewhat loose life, was converted to Christianity before his 
death; his mother Monnica, on account of her personal piety and 
her influence on her son, is one of the most revered women in 
the history of the Christian Church. Augustine was educated at 
the University of Carthage, and according to his own account 
belonged to a fast set and joined in their dissipations. While 
there he enterecTinto a relation which lasted for fourteen years 
with a young woman who became the mother of his son Adeo- 
datus; and he joined the heretical sect of the Manichaeans, who 
professed to have received from their founder, Manes, a higher 
form of truth than that taught by Christ. At the close of his 
university career, which had been brilliant in spite of distrac- 
tions, he returned to his native town, and first there, and later 
in Carthage and Rome, he practised as a teacher of rhetoric, 
training young lazvyers in the art of pleading. By the time he 
was about twenty-seven he had begun to have doubts as to the 
validity of Manichceism, but it was not till $87, while he was 
Professor of Rhetoric in the University of Milan, that he was 
converted to Catholic Christianity, and received baptism. He 
now gave up his profession and became an ascetic, studying the 
foundations of the faith, writing, chiefly against his former sect, 
and conversing with a group of disciples, first at Rome and then 
in his native town. When he was on a visit to Hippo, not far 
from Thagaste, he was forced into the priesthood, and in 395 he 
became Bishop of Hippo, an ofRce which he filled for the remain- 
ing thirty-five years of his life. Though he took a leading part 
in the activities of the African Church through all this time, and 
gradually became one of the mchst distinguished ecclesiastical 
figures in the Empire, the care of his diocese and the writing of 
his books formed his chief occupations. He continued to lead 
a life of extreme simplicity and self-denial, and in his episcopal 
establishment he trained a large number of disciples who became 
leaders in the Church. The strength of his hold on these younger 

3 



k 



4 INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

men was due not merely to his intellectual ascendency, but also 
to the charm and sweetness of his disposition. 

A large part of his literary activity was devoted to controversy 
with the heretics of his time, first the Manichceans, then the 
Donatists, and finally the Pelagians. It was in his writings 
against these last and most important opponents that he eldbO' 
rated his statement of the doctrines of Predestination, Irresist- 
ible Grace, and Final Perseverance, through which he has left 
his chief mark upon the creeds of later times. The theology of 
the Schoolmen, such as Thomas Aquinas, and of the Calvinists 
of the Reformation, is built upon an Augustinian basis. 

His two most important books are "The City of God" and the 
"Confessions." The former of these was provoked by the attacks 
upon Christianity, roused by the disasters that began to fall upon 
the Western Empire in the beginning of the fifth century; and 
Augustine replies by pointing out the failure of the heathen gods 
in former times to protect the peoples who trusted in them, and 
goes on to expose the evil influence of the belief in the old myth- 
ology, in a minute examination of its traditions and mysteries. 
The second part of the book deals with the history of the "City 
of Man," founded upon love of self, and of the "City of God," 
founded upon love of God and contempt of self. This work is 
,0 vast storehouse of the knowledge of the time, and is a monu- 
' ment not only to Augustine's great learning, but also to the 
keenest metaphysical mind of the age. 

The "Confessions," here printed, speaks for itself. The earliest 
of autobiographies, it remains unsurpassed as a sincere and inti- 
*fnate record of a great and pious soul laid bare before God. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF 
ST. AUGUSTINE 



THE FIRST BOOK 

Confessions of the greatness and unsearchableness of God, of God's 
mercies in infancy and boyhood, and human wilfulness; of his 
own sins of idleness, abuse of his studies^^ -arid 9! God's gifts 
up to his fifteenth year ■ -^ . 

y^REAT art Thou, O Lord, and greatly to%e praised; 
f "r great is Thy power, and Thy wisdom infinite} And 
Thee would man praise; man, but a particle of Thy 
creation ; man, that bears about him his mortality, the wit- 
ness of his sin, the witness that Thou resistest the proud:' 
yet would man praise Thee; he, but a particle of Thy 
creation. Thou awakest us to delight in Thy praise; for 
Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until 
it repose in Thee. Grant me. Lord, to know and understand 
which is first, to call on Thee or to praise Thee? and, again, 
to know Thee or to call on Thee ? for who can call on Thee, 
not knowing Thee? for he that knoweth Thee not, may 
call on Thee as other than Thou art. Or, is it rather, that 
we call on Thee that we may know Thee? but how shall 
they call on Him in whom they have not believed? or how 
shall they believe without a preacher?^ and they that seek 
the Lord shall praise Him:*' for they that seek shall find 
Him^ and they that find shall praise Him. I will seek Thee, 
Lord, by calling on Thee; and will call on Thee, believing 
in Thee; for to us hast Thou been preached. My faith, 
Lord, shall call on Thee, which Thou hast given me, where 

* Ps, cxlv. 3; cxlvii. 5. *Jas. iv. 6; 1 Pet. v. 5. » Rom. x. 14. 
* Ps. xxii. 26. " Matt. vii. 7. 

5 



6 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

with Thou hast inspired me, through the Incarnation of 
Thy Son, through the ministry of the Preacher. 

And how shall I call upon my God, my God and Lord, 
since, when I call for Him, I shall be calling Him to myself ? 
and what room is there within me, whither my God can 
come into me? whither can God come into me, God who 
made heaven and earth? is there, indeed, O Lord my God, 
aught in me that can contain Thee? do then heaven and 
earth, which Thou hast made, and wherein Thou hast made 
me, contain Thee? or, because nothing which exists could 
exist without Thee, doth therefore whatever exists contain 
Thee? Since, then, I too exist, why do I seek that Thou 
shouldest enter into me, who were not, wert Thou not in me ? 
Why? because I am not gone down in hell, and yet Thou 
art there also. For if I go down into hell, Thou art th ere.* 
I could not be then, (J my (jod^ rotird"n6r^'~at all,"^ert 
Thou not in me ; or, rather, unless I were in Thee, of whom 
are all things, by whom are all things, in whom are all 
things f Even so, Lord, even so. Whither do I call Thee, 
since I am in Thee? or whence canst Thou enter into me? 
for whither can I go beyond heaven and earth, that thence 
my God should come into me, who hath said, •/ iill the heaven 
and the earth^ 

Do the heaven and earth then contain Thee, since thou 
fillest them? or dost Thou fill them and yet overflow, since 
they do not contain Thee? And whither, when the heaven 
and the earth are filled, pourest Thou forth the remainder 
of Thyself? or hast Thou no need that aught contain Thee, 
who containest all things, since what Thou fillest Thou fillest 
by containing it? for the vessels which Thou fillest uphold 
Thee not, since, though they were broken. Thou wert 
not poured out. And when Thou art poured ouf on us. 
Thou art not cast down, but Thou upliftest us; Thou art 
not dissipated, but Thou gatherest us. But Thou who 
fillest all things, fillest Thou them with Thy whole self? 
or, since all things cannot contain Thee wholly, do they 
contain part of Thee? and all at once the same part? 
or each its own part, the greater more, the smaller less? 
And is, then, one part of Thee greater, another less? or, 

•Ps. cxxxix. 7. * Rom. xi. 36. 'Jer. xxiii. 24. • Acts ii. 18. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 7 

art Thou wholly everywhere, while nothing contains Thee 
wholly ? 

What art Thou th en, my God ? what, but the Lord God? 
For^wTio IS 'Lord but the LorBf or who is God save our 
God?^" Most highest, most good, most potent, most om- 
nipotent; most merciful, yet most just; most hidden, yet 
most present; most beautiful, yet most strong; stable, yet 
incomprehensible; unchangeable, yet all-changing; never 
new, never old; all-renewing, and bringing age upon the 
proud, and they know it not; ever working, ever at rest; 
still gathering, yet nothing lacking; supporting, filling, and 
overspreading; creating, nourishing, and maturing; seeking, 
yet having all things. Thou lovest, without passion; art 
jealous, without anxiety; repentest, yet grievest not; art 
angry, yet serene; changest Thy works, Thy purpose un- 
changed ; receivest again what Thou findest, yet didst never 
lose; never in need, yet rejoicing in gains; never covetous, 
yet exacting usury." Thou receivest over and above, that 
Thou mayest owe; and who hath aught that is not Thine? 
Thou payest debts, owing nothing; remittest debts, losing 
nothing. And what have I now said, my God, my life, my 
holy joy? or what saith any man when he speaks of Thee? 
Yet woe to him that speaketh not, since mute are even the 
most eloquent. 

Oh ! that I might repose on Thee ! Oh ! that Thou 
wouldest enter into my heart, and inebriate it, that I may 
forget my ills, and embrace Thee, my sole good? What art 
Thou to me? In Thy pity, teach me to utter it. Or what 
am I to Thee that Thou demandest my love, and, if I give 
it not, art wroth with me, and threatenest me with grievous 
woes ? Is it then a slight woe to love Thee not ? Oh ! for 
Thy mercies' sake, tell me, O Lord my God, what Thou art 
unto me. 5*03; unto mvsoul j I am thv salvation.^ Sp_s peak. 
that I^mSL^SaJ^ Beh6T37Lord, my heart is before Tfiee';"" 
open Thou the ears thereof, and say unto my soul, I am thy 
salvation. After this voice let me haste, and take hold on 
Thee. Hide not Thy face from me. Let me die — lest I 
die — only let me see Thy face. 

"Ps. xviii. 31. "Matt. xxv. 27, supererogatur tibi, 

" Ps. XXXV. 3. 



B THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINB 

Narrow is the mansion of my soul; enlarge Thou it, that 
Thou mayest enter in. It is ruinous; repair Thou it. It 
has that within which must offend Thine eyes; I confess 
and know it. But who shall cleanse it? or to whom should 
I cry, save Thee? Lord, cleanse me from my secret faults 
and spare Thy servant from the power of the enemy.^ I 
believe, and therefore do I speak}* Lord, Thou knowest. 
Have I not confessed against myself my transgressions unto 
Thee, and Thou, my God, hast forgiven the iniquity of my 
heartf^ I contend not in judgment with Thee}* who art 
the truth; I fear to deceive myself; lest mine iniquity lie 
unto itself." Therefore I contend not in judgment with 
Thee ; for if Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, 
who shall abide it?^^ 

Yet suffer me to speak unto Thy mercy, me, dust and 
ashes}* Yet suffer me to speak, since I speak to Thy mercy, 
and not to scornful man. Thou too, perhaps, despisest me, 
yet wilt Thou return and have compassion'^ upon me. For 
what would I say, O Lord my God, but that I know not 
whence I came into this dying life (shall I call it?) or 
living death. Then immediately did the comforts of Thy 
compassion take me up, as I heard (for I remember it not) 
from the parents of my flesh, out of whose substance Thou 
didst sometime fashion me. Thus there received me the 
comforts of woman's milk. For neither my mother nor my 
nurses stored their own breasts for me; but Thou didst 
bestow the food of my infancy through them, according to 
Thine ordinance, whereby Thou distributest Thy riches 
through the hidden springs of all things. Thou also gavest 
me to desire no more than Thou gavest; and to my nurses 
willingly to give me what Thou gavest them. For they, 
with a heaven-taught affection, willingly gave me what 
they abounded with from Thee. For this my good from 
them, was good for them. Nor, indeed, from them was it, 
but through them; f or from Thee, 0_ Qfldr-are.,all good 
things, a nd from my God is_alljnyjkealth. This I since 
learned, ihou, fHrough tliese Thy gifts, "within me and 
without, proclaiming Thyself unto me. For then I knew 

"Ps. xix. 12, 13. **Ps. cxvi. 10. '"Ps. xxxii. S- "Job ix. 3. 

wPs. xxvi. 12.— Vulg. "Ps. cxxx. 3. "Gen. xviii. 27. »Jer. xu. 15. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 9 

but to suck; to repose in what pleased, and cry at what 
offended my flesh ; nothing more. 

Afterwards I began to smile; first in sleep, then waking: 
for so it was told me of myself, and I believed it; for we 
see the like in other infants, though of myself I remember 
it not. Thus, little by little, I became conscious where I 
was; and to have a wish to express my wishes to those who 
could content them, and I could not; for the wishes were 
within me, and they without; nor could they by any sense of 
theirs enter within my spirit. So I flung about at random 
limbs and voice, making the few signs I could, and such 
as I could, like, though in truth very little like, what I 
wished. And when I was not presently obeyed (my wishes 
being hurtful or unintelligible), then I was indignant with 
my elders for not submitting to me, with those owing me no 
service, for not serving me ; and avenged myself on them 
by tears. Such have I learnt infants to be from observing 
them; and that I was myself such, they, all unconscious, 
have shown me better than my nurses who knew it. 

And, lo ! my infancy died long since, and I live. But 
Thou, Lord, who for ever livest, and in whom nothing dies : 
for before the foundation of the worlds, and before all that 
can be called " before." Thou art, and art God and Lord 
of all which Thou hast created: in Thee abide, fixed for 
ever, the first causes of all things unabiding; and of all 
things changeable, the springs abide in Thee unchangeable: 
and in Thee live the eternal reasons of all things unreason- 
ing and temporal. Say, Lord, to me. Thy suppliant; say, 
all-pitying, to me. Thy pitiable one; say, did my infancy 
succeed another age of mine that died before it? was it 
that which I spent within my mother's womb? for of that 
I have heard somewhat, and have myself seen women with 
child? and what before that life again, O God my joy, was 
I any where or any body? For this have I none to tell me, 
neither father nor mother, nor experience of others, nor 
mine own memory. Dost Thou mock me for asking this, 
and bid me praise Thee and acknowledge Thee, for that 
I do know? 

I acknowledge Thee, Lord of heaven and earth, and praise 
Thee for my first rudiments of being, and my infancy, 



10 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

whereof I remember nothing; for Thou hast appointed that 
man should from others guess much as to himself; and 
believe much on the strength of weak females. Even then 
I had being and life, and (at my infancy's close) I could 
seek for signs whereby to make known to others my sensa- 
tions. Whence could such a being be, save from Thee, 
Lord? Shall any be his own artificer? or can there else- 
where be derived any vein, which may stream essence and 
life into us, save from Thee, O Lord, in whom essence and 
life are one? for Thou Thyself art supremely Essence and 
Life. For Thou art most high, and art not changed^ neither 
in Thee doth to-day come to a close; yet in Thee doth it 
come to a close; because all such things also are in Thee. 
For they had no way to pass away, unless Thou upheldest 
them. And since Thy years fail notf Thy years are one 
to-day. How many of ours and our fathers' years have 
flowed away through Thy " to-day," and from it received 
the measure and the mould of such being as they had; and 
still others shall flow away, and so receive the mould of 
their degree of being. But Thou art still the same^ and 
all things of to-morrow, and all beyond, and all of 
yesterday, and all behind it. Thou hast done to-day. 
What is it to me, though any comprehend not this? Let 
him also rejoice and say. What thing is this.^ Let him 
rejoice even thus ; and be content rather by not discovering 
to discover Thee, than by discovering not to discover Thee. 
Hear, O God. Alas, for man's sin ! So saith man, and 
Thou pitiest him ;""fcjr Thou madest him, but sin in him 
Thou madest not. Who remindeth me of the sins of my 
infancy? for in Thy sight none is pure from sin, not even 
the infant whose life is but a day upon the earth.'' Who 
remindeth me? doth not each little infant, in whom I see 
what of myself I remember not? What then was my sin? 
was it that I liung upon ' the "breasr and cried? for should 
I now so do for food suitable to my age, justly should I be 
laughed at and reproved. What I then did was worthy 
reproof; but since I could not understand reproof, custom 
and reason forbade me to be reproved. For those habits, 

« Mai. Hi. 6. =* Ps. cii. 27. =» Ps. cii. 27. 

"* Exod. xvi. IS. *Job XXV. 4. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 11 

when grown, we root out and cast away. Now no man, 
though he prunes, wittingly casts away what is good.^ Or 
was it then good, even for a while, to cry for what, if 
given, would hurt? bitterly to resent, that persons free, and^^^^ 

its own elders, yea, the very authors of its birth, served it '^ 

not? that many besides, wiser than it, obeyed not the nod 
of its good pleasure ? to do its best to strike and hurt, because 
commands were not obeyed, which had been obeyed to its'^^V < 
hurt? The weakn ess then of in fant limbs, n ot its will, **" 

(lis its innocence. Myselt^ have seen and knowheverTirbaby " 
envious; it (Tould not speak, yet it turned pale and looked 
bitterly on its foster-brother. Who knows not this? Mothers 
and nurses tell you that they allay these things by I know 
not what remedies. Is that too innocence, when the foun- 
tain of milk is flowing in rich abundance, not to endure 
one to share it, though in extremest need, and whose very 
life as yet depends thereon? We bear gently with all this, 
not as being no or slight evils, but because they will dis- 
appear as years increase; for, though tolerated now, the 
very same tempers are utterly intolerable when found in 
riper years. 

Thou, then, O Lord my God, who gavest life to this my 
infancy, furnishing thus with senses (as we see) the frame 
Thou gavest, compacting its limbs, ornamenting its pro- 
portions, and for its general good and safety, implanting 
in it all vital functions, Thou commandest me to praise 
Thee in these things, to confess unto Thee, and sing unto 
Thy name, Thou most Highest^ For Thou art God, Al- 
mighty and Good, even hadst Thou done nought but only 
this, which none could do but Thou; whose Unity is the 
mould of all things; who out of Thy own fairn^ess makest 
all things fair; and orderest all things by Thy law. This 
age, then. Lord, whereof I have no remembrance, which 
I take on others' word, and guess from other infants that 
I have passed, true though the guess be, I am yet loth to 
count in this life of mine which I live in this world. For 
no less than that which I spent in my mother's womb, is it 
hid from me in the shadows of forgetfulness. Bu t if / was 
shapen i n iniquityj and in sin did m y mother conceive me^ " 
«« John XV. a. « Ps. xcii. i. *« Ps. li. 7. 



32 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

v^here^ I beseech Thee, O my God, where, Lord, orj^^Jh^n, 
wasl"T1iy" servant guiltless ? But,' lo ! that period I pass 
by :' and what have I now to do with that, of which I can 
recall no vestige ? 

Passing hence from infancy, I came to boyhood, or rather 
it came to me, displacing infancy. Nor did that depart, — 
(for whither went it?) — and yet it was no more. For I 
was no longer a speechless infant, but a speaking boy. This 
I remember; and have since observed how I learned to 
speak. It was not that my elders taught me words (as, 
soon after, other learning) in any set method ; but I, longing 
by cries and broken accents and various motions of my limbs 
to express my thoughts, that so I might have my will, and 
yet unable to express all I willed, or to whom I willed, did 
myself, by the understanding which Thou, my God, gavest 
me, practise the sounds in my memory. When they named 
any thing, and as they spoke turned towards it, I saw and 
remembered that they called what they would point out by 
the name they uttered. And that they meant this thing 
and no other was plain from the motion of their body, the 
natural language, as it were, of all nations, expressed by 
the countenance, glances of the eye, gestures of the limbs, 
and tones of the voice, indicating the affections of the mind, 
as it pursues, possesses, rejects, or shuns. And thus by 
constantly hearing words, as they occurred in various sen- 
tences, I collected gradually for what they stood; and 
having broken in my mouth to these signs, I thereby gave 
utterance to my will. Thus I exchanged with those about 
me these current signs of our wills, and so launched deeper 
into the stormy intercourse of human life, yet depending 
on parental authority and the beck of elders. 

O God my God, what miseries and mockeries did I now 
experience, when obedience to my teachers was proposed 
to me, as proper in a boy, in order that in this world I 
might prosper, and excel in tongue-science, which should 
serve to the "praise of men," and to deceitful riches. Next 
I was put to school to get learning, in which I (poor 
wretch) knew not what use there was; and yet, if idle in 
learning, I was beaten. For this was judged right by our 
forefathers; and many, passing the same course before us, 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 13 

framed for us weary paths, through which we were fain 
to pass; multiplying toil and grief upon the sons of Adam. 
But, Lord, we found that men called upon Thee, and we 
learnt from them to think of Thee (according to our powers) 
as of some great One, who, though hidden from our senses, 
couldst hear and help us. For so I began, as a boy, to 
pray to Thee, my aid and refuge; and broke the fetters of 
my tongue to call on Thee, prayin g T hee, tho ugh smaU^^ 
yet with no small earnestness,""tnat r'i!ligHtnot^'Be"^Seaten 
at school. """""And when Tliou heardst me not (not thereby 
giving me over to folly'^), my elders, yea, my very parents, 
who yet wished me no ill, mocked my stripes, my then great 
and grievous ill. ' > . -. ,^w.- 

Is there, Lord, any of soul so great, and cleaving to Thee 
with so intense affection (for a sort of stupidity will in a 
way do it) ; but is there any one who, from cleaving devoutly 
to Thee, is endued with so great a spirit, that he can think 
as lightly of the racks and hooks and other torments (against 
which, throughout all lands, men call on Thee with extreme 
dread), mocking at those by whom they are feared most 
bitterly, as our parents mocked the torments which we suf- 
fered in boyhood from our masters? For we feared not our 
torments less; nor prayed we less to Thee to escape them. 
And yet we sinned, in writing or reading or studying less 
than was exacted of us. For we wanted not, O Lord, mem- 
ory or capacity, whereof Thy will gave enough for our age ; 
but our sole delight was play ; and for this we were punished 
by those who yet themselves were doing the like. But elder 
folks' idleness is called " business " ; that of boys, being 
really the same, is punished by those elders; and none com- 
miserates either boys or men. For will any of sound dis- 
cretion approve of my being beaten as a boy, because, by 
playing at ball, I made less progress in studies which I was 
to learn, only that, as a man, I might play more unbeseem- 
ingly? and what else did he who beat me? who, if worsted 
in some trifling discussion with his fellow-tutor, was more 
embittered and jealous than I when beaten at ball by a play- 
fellow ? 

And yet, I sinned herein, O Lord God, the Creator and 
» Ps. xxi. 3.— Vulg. 



14 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Disposer of all things in nature, of sin the Disposer^ only, 

Lord my God, I sinned in transgressing the commands of 
my parents and those my masters. For what they, with 
whatever motive, would have me learn, I might afterwards 
have put to good use. For I disobeyed, not from a better 
choice, but from love of play, loving the pride of victory in 
my contests, and to have my ears tickled with lying fables, 
that they might itch the more; the same curiosity flashing 
from my eyes more and more, for the shows and games of 
my elders. Yet those who give these shows are in such 
esteem, that almost all wish the same for their children, and 
yet are very willing that they should be beaten, if those 
very games detain them from the studies, whereby they would 
have them attain to be the givers of them. Look with pity, 
Lord, on these things, and deliver us who call upon Thee 
now; deliver those too who call not on Thee yet, that they 
may call on Thee, and Thou mayest deliver them. 

As a boy, then, I had already heard of an eternal life, 
promised us through the humility of the Lord our God stoop- 
ing to our pride; and even from the womb of my mother, 
who greatly hoped in Thee, I was sealed with the mark of 
His cross and salted with His salt. Thou sawest, Lord, how 
while yet a boy, being seized on a time with sudden oppres- 
sion of the stomach, and like near to death — Thou sawest, 
my God (for Thou wert my keeper), with what eagerness 
and what faith I sought, from the pious care of my mother 
and Thy Church, the mother of us all, the baptism of Thy 
Christ my God and Lord. Whereupon the mother of my 
flesh, being much troubled (since, with a heart pure in Thy 
faith, she even more lovingly travailed in birth^ of my sal- 
vation), would in eager haste have provided for my con- 
secration and cleansing by the health-giving sacraments, 
confessing Thee, Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins, unless 

1 had suddenly recovered. And so, ,a.s if I must needs be 
again polluted should I live, my cleansing was deferred, be- 
cause the defilements of sin would, after that washing, bring 
greater and more perilous guilt. I then already believed : and 
my mother, and the whole household except my father: yet 
did not he prevail over the power of my mother's piety in 

*> Ordinator. "^ Gal. iv. 19. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 15 

me, that as he did not yet believe, so neither should I. For 
it was her earnest care that Thou my God, rather than he, 
shouldest be my father; and in this Thou didst aid her to 
prevail over her husband, whom she, the better, obeyed, 
therein also obeying Thee, who hast so commanded. 

I beseech Thee, my God, I would fain know, if so Thou 
wiliest, for what purpose my baptism was then deferred? 
was it for my good that the rein was laid loose, as it were, 
upon me, for me to sin? or was it not laid loose? If not, T 
why does it still echo in our ears on all sides, " Let him alone, t 
let him do as he will, for he is not yet baptised? " but as to < 
bodily health, no one says, " Let him be worse wounded, for 
he is not yet healed." How much better then, had I been 
at once healed; and then by my friends' diligence and my 
own, my soul's recovered health had been kept safe in Thy 
keeping who gavest it. Better truly. But how many and 
great waves of temptation seemed to hang over me after my 
boyhood! These my mother foresaw; and preferred to ex- 
pose to them the clay whence I might afterwards be moulded, 
than the very cast, when made. 

In boyhood itself, however (so much less dreaded for me 
than youth), I loved not study, and hated to be forced to it. , 
Yet I was forced; and this was well done towards me, but 
I did not well; for, unless forced, I had not learnt. But no 
one doth well against his will, even though what he doth,-' 
be well. Yet neither did they well who forced me, but what 
was well came to me from Thee, my God. For they were re- 
gardless how I should employ what they forced me to learn, 
except to satiate the insatiate desires of a wealthy beggary, 
and a shameful glory. But Thou, by whom the very hairs 
of our head are numbered,^" didst use for my good the error 
of all who urged me to learn; and my own, who would not 
learn. Thou didst use for my punishment — a fit penalty for 
one, so small a boy and so great a sinner. So by those who 
did not well, Thou didst well for me; and by my own sin 
Thou didst justly punish me. For Thou hast commanded, 
and so it is, that every inordinate affection should be its own 
punishment. 

But why did I so much hate the Greek, which I studied as 
"Matt X. 30. 



16 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

a boy? I do not yet fully know. For the Latin I loved; not 
what my first masters, but what the so-called grammarians 
taught me. For those first lessons, reading, writing, and 
arithmetic, I thought as great a burden and penalty as any 
Greek. And yet whence was this too, but from the sin 
and vanity of this life, because / was flesh, and a breath that 
passeth away and comet h not again?^ For those first les- 
sons were better certainly, because more certain; by them I 
obtained, and still retain, the power of reading what I find 
written and myself writing what I will ; whereas in the 
others, I was forced to learn the wanderings of one ^neas, 
forgetful of my own, and to weep for dead Dido, because she 
killed herself for love; the while, with dry eyes, I endured 
my miserable self dying among these things, far from Thee, 
O God my life. 

For what more miserable than a miserable being who 
commiserates not himself; weeping the death of Dido for 
love to u^neas, but weeping not his own death for want of 
love to Thee, O God. Thou light of my heart. Thou bread 
of my inmost soul, Thou Power who givest vigour to my 
mind, who quickenest my thoughts, I loved Thee not. I com- 
mitted fornication against Thee, and all around me thus 
fornicating there echoed, " Well done ! well done ! " for the 
friendship of this world is fornication against Thee;^ and 
" Well done ! well done ! " echoes on till one is ashamed to be 
thus a man. And all this I wept not, I who wept for Dido 
slain, and " seeking by the sword a stroke and wound ex- 
treme," myself seeking the while a worse extreme, the 
extremest and lowest of Thy creatures, having forsaken 
Thee, earth passing into the earth. And if forbid to read 
all this, I was grieved that I might not read what grieved 
me. Madness like this is thought a higher and a richer 
learning, than that by which I learned to read and write. 

But now, my God, cry Thou aloud in my soul ; and let Thy 
truth tell me, " Not so, not so. Far better was that first 
study." For, lo, I would readily forget the wanderings of 
yEneas and all the rest, rather than how to read and write. 
But over the entrance of the Grammar School is a veil 
drawn! true; yet is this not so much an emblem of aught 
•»Ps. IxxviiL 39« •*Jani. iv. 4. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 17 

recondite, as a cloak of error. Let not those, whom I no 
longer fear, cry out against me, while I confess to Thee, my 
God, whatever my soul will, and acquiesce in the condem- 
nation of my evil ways, that I may love Thy good ways. Let 
not either buyers or sellers of grammar-learning cry out 
against me. For if I question them whether it be true that 
^neas came on a time to Carthage, as the poet tells, the 
less learned will reply that they know not, the more learned 
that he never did. But should I ask with what letters the 
name " ^neas " is written, every one who has learnt this 
will answer me aright, as to the signs which men have con- 
ventionally settled. If again, I should ask which might be 
forgotten with least detriment to the concerns of life, reading 
and writing or these poetic fictions? who does not foresee 
what all must answer who have not wholly forgotten them- 
selves? I sinned, then, when as a boy I preferred those 
empty to those more profitable studies, or rather loved the 
one and hated the other. " One and one, two ; " " two and 
two, four; " this was to me a hateful singsong: " the wooden 
horse lined with armed men," and "the burning of Troy,"" 
and " Creusa's shade and sad similitude," were the choice 
spectacle of my vanity. 

Why then did I hate the Greek classics, which have the 
like tales? For Homer also curiously wove the like fictions, 
and is most swee'tly-vSTn, yet was he bitter to my boyish 
taste. And so I suppose would Virgil be to Grecian children, 
when forced to learn him as I was Homer. Difficulty, in 
truth, the difficulty of a foreign tongue, dashed, as it were, 
with gall all the sweetness of Grecian fable. For not one 
word of it did I understand, and to make me understand 
I was urged vehemently with cruel threats and punishments. 
Time was also (as an infant) I knew no Latin; but this I 
learned without fear or suffering, by mere observation, amid 
the caresses of my nursery and jests of friends, smiling and 
sportively encouraging me. This I learned without any 
_£ressure of punishment to urge me on, for my heart urged me 
to~give birth to its conceptions which I could only do by learn- 
irjgjwprds not of those who taught, but of those who talked 
wim me; in whose ears also I gave birth to the thoughts^ 



18 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

whatever I conceived. No doubt, then, that a free curi- 
osity has mora force in our learning these things, than 
a frightful enforcement. Only this enforcement restrains 
the rovings of that freedom, through Thy laws, O my God, 
Thy laws, from the master's cane to the martyr's trials, being- 
able to temper for us a wholesome bitter, recalling us to 
Thyself from that deathly pleasure which lures us from Thee. 

Hear, Lord, my prayer; let not my soul faint under Thy 
discipline, nor let me faint in confessing unto Thee all Thy 
mercies, whereby Thou hast drawn me out of all my most 
evil ways, that Thou mightest become a delight to me above 
all the allurements which I once pursued; that I may most 
entirely love Thee, and clasp Thy hand with all my affections, 
and Thou mayest yet rescue me from every temptation, even 
unto the end. For, lo, O Lord, my King and my God, for 
Thy service be whatever useful thing my childhood learned; 
for Thy service, that I speak, write, read, reckon. For 
Thou didst grant me Thy discipline, while I was learning 
vanities; and my sin of delighting in those vanities Thou 
hast forgiven. In them, indeed, I learnt many a useful word, 
but these may as well be learned in things not vain ; and that 
is the safe path for the steps of youth. 

But woe is thee, thou torrent of human custom ! Who 
shall stand against thee? how long shalt thou not be dried 
up? how long roll the sons of Eve into that huge and hideous 
ocean, which even they scarcely overpass who climb the 
cross? Did not I read in thee of Jove the thunderer and the 
adulterer ? both, doubtless, he could not be ; but so the feigned 
thunder might countenance and pander to real adultery. 
And now which of our gowned masters lends a sober ear to 
one who from their own school cries out, " These were 
Homer's fictions, transferring things human to the gods; 
would he had brought down things divine to us ! " Yet more 
truly had he said, " These are indeed his fictions ; but at- 
tributing a divine nature to wicked men, that crimes might 
be no longer crimes, and whoso commits them might seem 
to imitate not abandoned men, but the celestial gods." 

And yet, thou hellish torrent, into thee are cast the sons 
of men with rich rewards, for compassing such learning; 
and a great solemnity is made of it, when this is going on in 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 19 

the forum, within sight of laws appointing a salary beside 
the scholar's payments, and thou lashest thy rocks and 
roarest, "Hence words are Icamt; hence eloquence; most 
necessary to gain your ends, or maintain opinions." As if 
we should have never known such words as "golden shower," 
"lap," "beguile," "temples of the heavens," or others in 
that passage, unless Terence had brought a lewd youth upon 
the stage, setting up Jupiter as his example of seduction. 

" Viewing a picture, where the tale was drawn, 
Of Jove's descending in a golden shower 
To Danae's lap, a woman to begniile-" 

And then mark how he excites himself to lust as by celestial 
authority : 

" And what God ? Great Jove, 
Who shakes heaven's highest temples with his thunder, 
And I, poor mortal man, not do the same I 
I did it, and with all my heart I did it." 

Not one whit more easily are the words learnt for all this 
vileness; but by their means the vileness is committed with 
less shame. Not that I blame the words, being, as it were, 
choice and precious vessels; but that wine of error which is 
drunk to us in them by intoxicated teachers; and if we, too, 
drink not, we are beaten, and have no sober judge to whom 
we may appeal. Yet, O my God (in whose presence I now 
without hurt may remember this), all this unhappily I learnt 
willingly with great delight, and for this was pronounced a 
hopeful boy. 

Bear with me, my God, while I say somewhat of my wit, 
Thy gift, and on what dotage I wasted it. For a task was 
set me, troublesome enough to my soul, upon terms of praise 
or shame, and fear of stripes, to speak the words of Juno, 
as she raged and mourned that she could not 
" This Trojan prince from Latium turn." 

Which words I had heard that Juno never uttered; but we 
were forced to go astray in the footsteps of these poetic 
fictions, and to say in prose much what he expressed in verse. 
And his speaking was most applauded, in whom the passions 
of rage and grief were most pre-eminent, and clothed in 
the most fitting language, maintaining the dignity of the 



h 



20 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

character. What is it to me, O my true life, my God, that 
my declamation was applauded above so many of my own 
age and class ? is not all this smoke and wind ? and was there 
nothing else whereon to exercise my wit and tongue? Thy 
praises. Lord, Thy praises might have stayed the yet tender 
shoot of my heart by the prop of Thy Scriptures; so had it 
not trailed away amid these empty trifles, a defiled prey for 
the fowls of the air. For in more ways than one do men 
sacrifice to the rebellious angels. 

But what marvel that I was thus carried away to vanities, 
and went from Thy presence, O my God, when men were set 
before me as models, who, if in relating some action of theirs, 
in itself not ill, they committed some barbarism or solecism, 
being censured, were abashed ; but when in rich and adorned 
and well-ordered discourse they related their own disordered 
life, being bepraised, they gloried? These things Thou 
seest. Lord, and boldest Thy peace; long-suffering, and 
plenteous in mercy and truths Wilt Thou hold Thy peace 
for ever? and even now Thou drawest out of this horrible 
gulf the soul that seeketh Thee, that thirsteth for Thy pleas- 
ures, whose heart saith unto Thee, I have sought Thy face; 
Thy face, Lord, will I seek^ For darkened^ affections is re- 
moval from Thee. For it is not by our feet, or change of 
place, that men leave Thee, or return unto Thee. Or did 
that Thy younger son look out for horses or chariots, or 
ships, fly with visible wings, or journey by the motion of his 
limbs, that he might in a far country waste in riotous living 
all Thou gavest at his departure ? a loving Father, when Thou 
gavest, and more loving unto him, when he returned empty. 
So then in lustful, that is, in darkened affections, is the 
true distance from Thy face. 

Behold, O Lord God, yea, behold patiently as Thou art 
wont, how carefully the sons of men observe the covenanted 
rules of letters and syllables received from those who spake 
before them, neglecting the eternal covenant of everlasting 
salvation received from Thee. Insomuch, that a teacher or 
learner of the hereditary laws of pronunciation will more 
offend men by speaking without the aspirate, of a "uman 
being," in despite of the laws of grammar, than if he, a 

"• Ps. Ixxxvi. IS. " Ps. xxvii. 8. * Rom. i. 21. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 21 

" human being," hate a " human being " in despite of Thine. 
As if any enemy could be more hurtful than the hatred with 
which he is incensed against him; or could wound more 
deeply him whom he persecutes, than he wounds his own soul 
by his enmity. Assuredly no science of letters can be so 
innate as the record of conscience, "that he is doing to an- 
other what from another he would be loath to suffer." How 
deep are Thy ways, O God, Thou only great, that sittcst 
silent on high'* and by an unwearied law dispensing penal 
blindness to lawless desires. In quest of the fame of elo- 
quence, a man standing before a human judge, surrounded by 
a human throng, declaiming against his enemy with fiercest 
hatred, will take heed most watchfully, lest, by an error of 
the tongue, he murder the word "human being"; but takes 
•no heed, lest, through the fury of his spirit, he murder the 
real human being. 

This was the world at whose gate unhappy I lay in my 
boyhood; this the stage where I had feared more to commit 
a barbarism, than having committed one, to envy those who 
had not. These things I speak and confess to Thee, my God ; 
for which I had praise from them, whom I then thought it 
all virtue to please. For I saw not the abyss of vileness, 
wherein / was cast away from Thine eyes.*" Before them 
what more foul than I was already, displeasing even such 
as myself? with innumerable lies deceiving my tutor, my 
masters, my parents, from love of play, eagerness to see vain 
shows and restlessness to imitate them! Thefts also I com- 
mitted, from my parents' cellar and table, enslaved by greed- 
iness, or that I might have to give to boys, who sold me their 
play, which all the while they liked no less than I. In this 
play, too, I often sought unfair conquests, conquered myself 
meanwhile by vain desire of pre-eminence. And what could 
I so ill endure, or, when I detected it, upbraided I so fiercely, 
as that I was doing to others? and for which if, detected, I 
was upbraided, I chose rather to quarrel than to yield. And 
is this the innocence of boyhood? Not so. Lord, not so; I 
cry Thy mercy, O my God. For these very sins, as riper 
years succeed, these very sins are transferred from tutors 
and masters, from nuts and balls and sparrows, to magistrates 

*» Is. xxxiii. 3. *" Ps. xxxi. 22. 



22 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

and kings, to gold and manors and slaves, just as severer 
punishments displace the cane. It was the low stature then 
of childhood which Thou our King didst commend as an 
emblem of lowliness, when Thou saidst, Of such is the king- 
dom of heaven.*^ 

Yet, Lord, to Thee, the Creator and Governor of the uni- 
verse, most excellent and most good, thanks were due to Thee 
our God, even hadst Thou destined for me boyhood only. 
For even then I was, I lived, and felt; and had implanted 
providence over my well-being — a trace of that mysterious 
Unity whence I was derived : I guarded by the inward sense 
the entireness of my senses, and in these minute pursuits, 
and in my thoughts on things minute, I learnt to delight in 
truth, I hated to be deceived, had a vigorous memory, was 
gifted with speech, was soothed by friendship, avoided pain, 
baseness, ignorance. In so small a creature, what was not 
wonderful, not admirable? But all are gifts of my God: it 
was not I who gave them me; and good these are, and these 
together are myself. Good, then, is He that made me. and 
He is my good; and before Him will I exult for every good 
which of a boy I had. For it was my sin, that not in Him, 
but in His creatures — myself and others — I sought for pleas- 
ures, sublimities, truths, and so fell headlong into sorrows, 
confusions, errors. Thanks be to Thee, my joy and my glory 
and my confidence, my God, thanks be to Thee for Thy gifts; 
but do Thou preserve them to me. For so wilt Thou pre- 
serve me, and those things shall be enlarged and perfected 
which Thou hast given me, and I myself shall be with Thee, 
since even to be Thou hast given me. 

*i Matt. xix. 14. 



THE SECOND BOOK 

Object of these Confessions. Further ills of idleness developed in 
his sixteenth year. Evils of ill society, which betrayed him into 

theft. 

I WILL now call to mind my past foulness, and the 
carnal corruptions of my soul ; not because I love them, 
but that I may love Thee, O my God. For love of 
Thy love I do it; reviewing my most wicked ways in the 
very bitterness of my remembrance, that Thou mayest grow 
sweet unto me (Thou sweetness never failing. Thou blissful 
and assured sweetness) ; and gathering me again out of 
that my dissipation, wherein I was torn piecemeal, while 
turned from Thee, the One Good, I lost myself among a 
multiplicity of things. For I even burnt in my youth 
heretofore, to be satiated in things below; and I dared to 
grow wild again, with these various and shadowy loves: 
my beauty consumed azvay, and I stank in Thine eyes; 
pleasing myself, and desirous to please in the eyes of men. 
And what was it that I delighted in, but to love, and be 
beloved? but I kept not the measure of love, of mind to 
mind, friendship's bright t)oundary: but out of the muddy 
concupiscence of the flesh, and the bubblings of youth, mists 
fumed up which beclouded and overcast my heart, that I 
could not discern the clear brightness of love from the fog 
of lustfulness. Both did confusedly boil in me, and hurried 
my unstayed youth over the precipice of unholy desires, and 
sunk me in a gulf of flagitiousnesses. Thy wrath had 
gathered over me, and I knew it not. I was grown deaf by 
the clanking of the chain of my mortality, the punishment 
of the pride of my soul, and I strayed further from Thee, 
and Thou lettest me alone, and I was tossed about, and 
wasted, and dissipated, and I boiled over in my fornications, 
and Thou heldest Thy peace, O Thou my tardy joy ! Thou 
then heldest Thy peace, and I wandered further and further 

23 



24 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

from Thee, into more and more fruitless seed-plots of sor- 
rows, with a proud dejectedness, and a restless weariness. 

Oh ! that some one had then attempered my disorder, 
and turned to account the fleeting beauties of these, the 
extreme points of Thy creation ! had put a bound to their 
pleasureableness, that so the tides of my youth might have 
cast themselves upon the marriage shore, if they could not 
be calmed, and kept within the object of a family, as Thy 
law prescribes, O Lord: who this way formest the offspring 
of this our death, being able with a gentle hand to blunt 
the thorns which were excluded from Thy paradise? For 
Thy omnipotency is not far from us, even when we be far 
from Thee. Else ought I more watchfully to have heeded 
the voice from the clouds: Nevertheless such shall have 
trouble in the Hesh, hut I spare you} And it is good for a 
man not to touch a zn'oman.' And, he that is unmarried 
thinketh of the things of the Lord, hozv he may please the 
Lord; but he that is married careth for the things of this 
world, hozv he may please his zvife* 

To these words I should have listened more attentively, 
and being severed for the kingdom of heaven's sake* had 
more happily awaited Thy embraces; but I, poor wretch, 
foamed like a troubled sea, following the rushing of my own 
tide, forsaking Thee, and exceeded all Thy limits; yet I 
escaped not Thy scourges. For what mortal can? For 
Thou wert ever with me mercifully rigorous, and besprink- 
ling with most bitter alloy all my unlawful pleasures: that 
I might seek pleasures without alloy. But where to find 
such, I could not discover, save in Thee, O Lord, who 
teaciiest by sorrozv, and woundest us, to heal; and killest 
us lest we die from Thee.' Where was I, and how far was 
I exiled from the delights of Thy house, in that sixteenth 
year of the age of my flesh, when the madness of lust (to 
which human shamelessness giveth free licence, though un- 
licensed by Thy laws) took the rule over me, and I resigned 
myself wholly to it? My friends meanwhile took no care 
by marriage to save my fall: their only care was that I 
should learn to speak excellently, and be a persuasive orator 
For that year were my studies intermitted: whilst after 
iCor. tH. 28. «Ver. .. »Ver. Z2, 33. * Matt. xix. 12. • Dcut xxxu. 29. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 25 

my return from Madaura (a neighbour city, whither I had 
journeyed to learn grammar and rhetoric), the expenses 
for a further journey to Carthage were being provided for 
me; and that, rather by the resolution than the means of 
my father, who was but a poor freeman of Thagaste. TCg 
whom tell I this? not to Thee, my God; but before Thf^f 
to mine own kind, even to that small portion of mankind ^g 
may light upon these writings of mine. And to what p jj^ 
pose? that whosoever reads this, may think out of «_ted. 
depths zve are to cry unto Thee!" For what is nearcQod 
Thine ears than a confessing heart, and a life of fa Q^t 
Who did not extol my father, for that beyond the ab 
of his means, he would furnish his son with all necessj law 
for a far journey for his studies' sake ? For many far {faces 
citizens did no such thing for their children. But ye^ i-jcj^ 
same father had no concern how I grew towards Th;hieve 
how chaste I were ; so that I were but copious in speech, -Qugh 
ever barren I were to Thy culture, O God, who arg^j^y 
only true and good Lord of Thy field, my heart. better. 

But while in that my sixteenth year I lived with i->ft 
parents, leaving all school for a while (a season of idleness 
being interposed through the narrowness of my parents' 
fortunes), the briers of unclean desires grew rank over my 
head, and there was no hand to root them out. When that 
my father saw me at the baths, now growing towards man- 
hood, and endued with a restless youthfulness, he, as already 
hence anticipating his descendants, gladly told it to my 
mother; rejoicing in that tumult of the senses wherein the ' 
world forgetteth Thee its Creator, and becometh enamoured 
of Thy creature, instead of Thyself, through the fumes of that 
invisible wine of its self-will, turning aside and bowing down 
to the very basest things. But in my mother's breast Thou 
hadst already begun Thy temple, and the foundation of 
Thy holy habitation, whereas my father was as yet but a 
catechumen, and that but recently. She then was startled 
with a holy fear and trembling; and though I was not as yet 
baptised, feared for me those crooked ways in which they 
walk who turn their hack to Thee, and not their face? 

Woe is me ! and dare I say that Thou heldest Thy peace, 

•Ps. cxxx. I. 'Jer. ii. 27. 



26 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

O my God, while I wandered further from Thee? Didst 

Thou then indeed hold Thy peace to me? And whose but 

Thine were these words which by my mother, Thy faithful 

j^ one, Thou sangest in my ears ? Nothing whereof sunk into 

QX^y heart, so as to do it. For she wished, and I remember 

plecJ pi"'vate with great anxiety warned me, " not to commit 

j-asj-rnication; but especially never to defile another man's 

Ijg c^^-" These seemed to me womanish advices, which I 

law p^'*^ blush to obey. But they were Thine, and I knew it 

of th- ^"^ ^ thought Thou wert silent and that it was she 

the tP spake; by whom Thou wert not silent unto me; and 

Thy d^^ wast despised by me, her son, the son of Thy hand- 

from '^> '^^y servant.^ But I knew it not; and ran headlong 

the vo ^^^^ blindness, that amongst my equals I was ashamed 

irouble^^^^ shamelessness, when I heard them boast of their 

man nr^^^^^^^' y^^> ^^^ ^^^ more boasting, the more they 

thinke- degraded : and I took pleasure, not only in the pleasure 

Lord'^ deed, but in the praise. What is worthy of dispraise 

world ^^^^^ ^"t I made myself worse than I was, that I 

Tiight not be dispraised; and when in any thing I had not 

„ sinned as the abandoned ones, I would say that I had done 

what I had not done, that I might not seem contemptible in 

proportion as I was innocent; or of less account, the more 

chaste. 

Behold with what companions I walked the streets of 
Babylon, and wallowed in the mire thereof, as if in a bed 
of spices and precious ointments. And that I might cleave the 
faster to its very centre, the invisible enemy trod me down, 
and seduced me, for that I was easy to be seduced. Neither 
did the mother of my flesh (who had now iied out of the 
centre of Babylon^ yet went more slowly in the skirts 
thereof), as she advised me to chastity, so heed what she 
had heard of me from her husband, as to restrain within the 
bounds of conjugal affection (if it could not be pared away 
'to the quick) what she felt to be pestilent at present and for 
the future dangerous. She heeded not this, for she feared 
lest a wife should prove a clog and hindrance to my hopes. 
Not those hopes of the world to come, which my mother re- 
posed in Thee; but the hope of learning, which both my 
"Ps. cxvi. 1 6. "Jer. li. 6. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 27 

parents were too desirous I should attain ; my father, because 
he had next to no thought of Thee, and of me but vain con- 
ceits; my mother, because she accounted that those usual 
courses of learning would not only be no hindrance, but 
even some furtherance towards attaining Thee. For thus 
I conjecture, recalling, as well as I may, the disposition of 
my parents. The reins, meantime, were slackened to me, 
beyond all temper of due severity, to spend my time in 
sport, yea, even unto dissoluteness in whatsoever I affected. 
And in all was a mist, intercepting from me, O my God, 
the brightness of Thy truth; and mine iniquity burst out 
as from very fatness."* 

Theft is punished by Thy Law, O Lord, and the law 
written in the hearts of men, which iniquity itself effaces 
not. For what thief will abide a thief? not even a rich 
thief, one stealing through want. Yet I lusted to thieve, 
and did it, compelled by no hunger, nor poverty, but through 
a cloyedness of well-doing, and a pamperedness of iniquity. 
For I stole that, of which I had enough, and much better. 
Nor cared I to enjoy what I stole, but joyed in the theft 
and sin itself. A pear tree there was near our vineyard, 
laden with fruit, tempting neither for colour nor taste. 
To shake and rob this, some lewd young fellows of us went, 
late one night (having according to our pestilent custom 
prolonged our sports in the streets till then), and took huge 
loads, not for our eating, but to fling to the very hogs, hav- 
ing only tasted them. And this, but to do what we liked ■ 
only, because it was misliked. Behold my heart, O God, 
behold my heart, which Thou hadst pity upon in the bottom 
of the bottomless pit. Now, behold let my heart tell Thee 
what it sought there, that I should be gratuitously evil, 
having no temptation to ill, but the ill itself. It was foul, 
and I loved it ; I loved to perish, I loved mine own fault, not 
that for which I was faulty, but my fault itsilf. Foul soul, 
falling from Thy firmanent to utter destruction : not seeking 
aught through the shame, but the shame itself! 

For there is an attractiveness in beautiful bodies, in gold 
and silver, and all things; and in bodily touch, sympathy 
hath much influence, and each other sense hath his proper 

"•Ps. Ixxiii. 7. 



28 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

object answerably tempered. Worldly honour hath also its 
grace, and the power of overcoming, and of mastery ; whence 
springs also the thirst for revenge. But yet, to obtain all 
these, we may not depart from Thee, O Lord, nor decline 
from Thy law. The life also which here we live hath its 
own enchantment, through a certain proportion of its own, 
and a correspondence with all things beautiful here below. 
Human friendship also is endeared with a sweet tie by 
reason of the unity formed of many souls. Upon occasion 
of all these, and the like, is sin committed, while through an 
immoderate inclination towards these goods of the lowest 
order, the better and higher are forsaken, — Thou, our Lord 
God, Thy truth, and Thy law. For these lower things have 
their delights, but not like my God, who made all things; 
for in Him doth the righteous delight, and He is the joy 
of the upright in heart.^ 

When, then, we ask why a crime was done, we believe 
it not, unless it appear that there might have been some 
desire of obtaining some of those which we called lower 
goods, or a fear of losing them. For they are beautiful and 
comely; although compared with those higher and beatific 
goods, they be abject and low. A man hath murdered an- 
other; why? he loved his wife or his estate; or would rob 
for his own livelihood ; or feared to lose some such things 
by him; or, wronged, was on fire to be revenged. Would 
any commit murder upon no cause, delighted simply in mur- 
dering? who would believe it? for as for that furious and 
savage man, of whom it is said that he was gratuitously 
evil and cruel, yet is the cause assigned; "lest" (saith he) 
" through idleness hand or heart should grow inactive." 
And to what end? that, through that practice of guilt, he 
might, having taken the city, attain to honours, empire, 
riches, and be freed from fear of the laws, and his embar- 
rassments from domestic needs, and consciousness of vil- 
lainies. So then, not even Catiline himself loved his own 
villainies, but something else, for whose sake he did them. 

What then did wretched I so love in thee, thou theft of 
mine, thou deed of darkness, in that sixteenth year of my 
age? Lovely thou wert not, because thou wert theft. But 

>* Ps. Ixiv. 10. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 29 

art thou any thing, that thus I speak to thee? Fair were 
the pears we stole, because they were Thy creation, Thou 
fairest of all. Creator of all, Thou good God; God, the 
sovereign good and my true good. Fair were those pears, 
but not them did my wretched soul desire; for I had store 
of better, and those I gathered, only that I might steal. 
For, when gathered, I flung them away, my only feast 
therein being my own sin, which I was pleased to enjoy. 
For if aught of those pears came within my mouth, 
what sweetened it was the sin. And now, O Lord my God, 
I enquire what in that theft delighted me; and behold it 
hath no loveliness; I mean not such loveliness as in justice 
and wisdom; nor such as is in the mind and memory, and 
senses, and animal life of man; nor yet as the stars are 
glorious and beautiful in their orbs; or the earth, or sea, 
full of embryo-life, replacing by its birth that which de- 
cayeth; nay, nor even that false and shadowy beauty which 
belongeth to deceiving vices. 

For so doth pride imitate exaltedness; whereas Thou 
alone art God exalted over all. Ambition, what seeks it, 
but honours and glory? whereas Thou alone art to be hon- 
oured above all, and glorious for evermore. The cruelty 
of the great would fain be feared; but who is to be feared 
but God alone, out of whose power what can be wrested or 
withdrawn? when, or where, or whither, or by whom? 
The tendernesses of the wanton would fain be counted love : 
yet is nothing more tender than Thy charity; nor is aught 
loved more healthfully than that Thy truth, bright and 
beautiful above all. Curiosity makes semblance of a desire 
of knowledge; whereas Thou supremely knowest all. Yea, 
ignorance and foolishness itself is cloaked under the name 
of simplicity and uninjuriousness; because nothing is found 
more single than Thee: and what less injurious, since they 
are his own works which injure the sinner? Yea, sloth 
would fain be at rest ; but what stable rest besides the Lord ? 
Luxury affects to be called plenty and abundance ; but Thou 
art the fulness and never-failing plenteousness of incor- 
ruptible pleasures. Prodigality presents a shadow of liber- 
ality: but Thou art the most overflowing Giver of all good. 
Covetousness would possess many things: and Thou pos- 



30 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

sessest all things. Envy disputes for excellency; what more 
excellent than Thou ? Anger seeks revenge : who revenges 
more justly than Thou? Fear startles at things unwonted 
and sudden, which endanger things beloved, and takes fore- 
thought for their safety; but to Thee what unwonted or 
sudden, or who separateth from Thee what Thou lovest?" 
Or where but with Thee is unshaken safety? Grief pines 
away for things lost, the delight of its desires; because it 
would have nothing taken from it, as nothing can from 
Thee. 

Thus doth the soul commit fornication, when she turns 
from Thee, seeking without Thee, what she findeth not 
pure and untainted, till she returns to Thee. Thus all per- 
vertedly imitate Thee, who remove far from Thee, and lift 
themselves up against Thee. But even by thus imitating 
Thee, they imply Thee to be the Creator of all nature; 
whence there is no place whither altogether to retire from 
Thee. What then did I love in that theft? and wherein 
did I even corruptly and pervertedly imitate my Lord? Did 
I wish even by stealth to do contrary to Thy law, because 
by power I could not, so that being a prisoner, I might mimic 
a maimed liberty by doing with impunity things unpermitted 
me, a darkened likeness of Thy Omnipotency ? Behold, Thy 
servant, fleeing from his Lord, and obtaining a shadow." O 
rottenness, O monstrousness of life, and depth of death 1 
could I like what I might not, only because I might not? 

What shall I render unto the Lord,^* that, whilst my 
memory recalls these things, my soul is not affrighted at 
them? / will love Thee, O Lord, and thank Thee, and 
confess unto Thy name; because Thou hast forgiven me 
these so great and heinous deeds of mine. To Thy grace 
I ascribe it, and to Thy mercy, that Thou hast melted away 
my sins as it were ice. To Thy grace I ascribe also what- 
soever I have not done of evil; for what might I not have 
done, who even loved a sin for its own sake? Yea, all I 
confess to have been forgiven me; both what evils I com- 
mitted by own wilfulness, and what by Thy guidance I com- 
mitted not. What man is he, who, weighing his own in- 
firmity, dares to ascribe his purity and innocency to his 

" Rom. viii. 9. " Jonah i., iv. " Ps, cxvi. la. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 31 

own strength; that so he should love Thee the less, as if 
he had less needed Thy mercy, whereby Thou remittest sins 
to those that turn to Thee? For whosoever, called by Thee, 
followed Thy voice, and avoided those things which he 
reads hie recalling and confessing of njyself, let him not 
scorn me, who being sick was cured by that Physician, 
through whose aid it Was that he was not, or rather was 
less, sick: and for this let him love Thee as much, yea 
and more ; since by whom he sees me to have been recovered 
from such deep consumption of sin, by Him he sees himself 
to have been from the like consumption of sin preserved. 

What fruit had I then (wretched man!) in those things, 
of the remembrance whereof I am now ashamed?^ Espe- 
cially, in that theft which I loved for the theft's sake; and 
it too was nothing, and therefore the more miserable I, who 
loved it. Yet alone I had not done it : such was I then, I re- 
member, alone I had never done it. I loved then in it also 
the company of the accomplices, with whom I did it? I 
did not then love nothing else but the theft, yea rather 
I did love nothing else ; for that circumstance of the com- 
pany was also nothing. What is, in truth? who can teach 
me, save He that enlighteneth my heart, and discovereth 
its dark corners? What is it which hath come into my 
mind to enquire, and discuss, and consider? For had I then 
loved the pears I stole, and wished to enjoy them, I might 
have done it alone, had the bare commission of the theft 
sufficed to attain my pleasure; nor needed I have inflamed 
the itching of my desires by the excitement of accomplices. 
But since my pleasure was not in those pears, it was in 
the offence itself, which the company of fellow-sinners oc- 
casioned. 

What then was this feeling? For of a truth it was too 
foul: and woe was me, who had it. But yet what was it? 
Who can understand his errors?^ It was the sport, which 
as it were tickled our hearts, that we beguiled those who 
little thought what we were doing, and much disliked it. 
Why then was my delight of such sort that I did it not 
alone? Because none doth ordinarily laugh alone? or- 
dinarily no one; yet laughter sometimes masters men alone 

" Rom. vi. 21. " Ps. xix. 12. 



S2 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

and singly when no one whatever is with them, if any thing 
very ludicrous presents itself to their senses or mind. Yet 
I had not done this alone; alone I had never done it. Be- 
hold my God, before Thee, the vivid remembrance of my 
soul; alone, I had never committed that theft wherein 
what I stole pleased me not, but that I stole; nor had it 
alone liked me to do it, nor had I done it. O friendship 
"*( too unfriendly ! thou incomprehensible inveigler of the soul, 
thou greediness to do mischief out of mirth and wantonness, 
thou thirst of others' loss, without lust of my own gain or 
revenge: but when it is said, "Let's go, let's do it," we 
are ashamed not to be shameless. 

Who can disentangle that twisted and intricate knottiness? 
Foul is it: I hate to think on it, to look on it. But Thee 
I long for, O Righteousness and Innocency, beautiful and 
comely to all pure eyes, and of a satisfaction unsating. 
With Thee is rest entire, and life imperturbable. Whoso 
enters into Thee, enters into the joy of his Lord:" and shall 
not fear, and shall do excellently in the All-Excellent. I 
sank away from Thee, and I wandered, O my God, too much 
astray from Thee my stay, in these days of my youth, and 
I became to myself a barren land. 

" Matt. XXV. 2u 



THE THIRD BOOK 

His residence at Carthage from his seventeenth to his nineteenth 
year. Source of his disorders. Love of shows. Advance in 
studies, and love of wisdom. Distaste for Scripture. Led astray 
to the Manichaeans. Refutation of some of their tenets. Grief 
of his mother Monnica at his heresy, and prayers for his conver- 
sion. Her vision from God, and answer through a Bishop 

TO CARTHAGE I came, where there sang all around 
me in my ears a cauldron of unholy loves. I loved not 
yet, yet I loved to love, and out of a deep-seated want, 
I hated myself for wanting not. I sought what I might love, 
in love with loving, and safety I hated, and a way without 
snares. For within me was a famine of that inward food, 
Thyself, my God; yet, through that famine I was not hun- 
gered; but was without all longing for incorruptible suste- 
nance, not because filled therewith, but the more empty, the 
more I loathed it. For this cause my soul was sickly and 
full of sores, it miserably cast itself forth, desiring to be 
scraped by the touch of objects of sense. Yet if these had 
not a soul, they would not be objects of love. To love then, 
and to be beloved, was sweet to me ; but more, when I 
obtained to enjoy the person I loved. I defiled, therefore, 
the spring of friendship with the filth of concupiscence, 
and I beclouded its brightness with the hell of lustful- 
ness; and thus foul and unseemly, I would fain, through 
exceeding vanity, be fine and courtly. I fell headlong then 
into the love wherein I longed to be ensnared. My God, 
my Mercy, with how much gall didst Thou out of Thy 
great goodness besprinkle for me that sweetness? For 
I was both beloved, and secretly arrived at the bond of 
enjoying; and was with joy fettered with sorrow-bring- 
ing bonds, that I might be scourged with the iron burning 

2 — HC VII 33 



34 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

rods of jealousy, and suspicion, and fears, and angers, 
and quarrels. 

Stage-plays also carried me away, full of images of my 
miseries, and of fuel to my fire. Why is it, that man desires 
to be made sad, beholding doleful and tragical things, which 
yet himself would by no means suffer? yet he desires as a 
spectator to feel sorrow at them, and this very sorrow is .his 
pleasure. What is this but a miserable madness? for a man 
is the more affected with these actions, the less free he is 
from such affections. Howsoever, when he suffers in his own 
person, it uses to be styled misery; when he compassionates 
others, then it is mercy. But what sort of compassion is 
this for feigned and scenical passions? for the auditor is not 
called on to relieve, but only to grieve: and he applauds the 
actor of these fictions the more, the more he grieves. And 
if the calamities of those persons (whether of old times, or 
mere fiction) be so acted, that the spectator is not moved to 
tears, he goes away disgusted and criticising; but if he be 
moved to passion, he stays intent, and weeps for joy. 

Are griefs then too loved? Verily all desire joy. Or 
whereas no man likes to be miserable, is he yet please 1 to 
be merciful? which because it cannot be without passion, for 
this reason alone are passions loved? This also springs 
from that vein of friendship. But whither goes that vein? 
whither flows it ? wherefore runs it into that torrent of pitch 
bubbling forth those monstrous tides of foul lustfulness, into 
which it is wilfully changed and transformed, being of its 
own will precipitated and corrupted from its heavenly 
clearness? Shall compassion then be put away? by no 
means. Be griefs then sometimes loved. But beware of 
uncleanness, O my soul, under the guardianship of my God, 
the God of our fathers, who is to be praised and exalted above 
all for ever^ beware of uncleanness. For I have not now 
ceased to pity; but then in the theatres I rejoiced with lovers 
when they wickedly enjoyed one another, although this was 
imaginary only in the play. And when they lost one another, 
as if very compassionate, I sorrowed with them, yet had my 
delight in both. But now I much more pity him that re- 
joiceth in his wickedness, than him who is thought to suffer 

1 Song of the Three Children, ver. 3. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 35 

hardship, by hissing some pernicious pleasure, and the loss 
of some miserable felicity. This certainly is the truer mercy, 
but in it grief delights not. For though he that grieves for 
the miserable, be commended for his office of charity ; yet 
had he, who is genuinely compassionate, rather there were WnA " 
nothing for him to grieve for. For if good will be ill willed 
(which can never be), then may he, who truly and sincerely 
commiserates, wish there might be some miserable, that he » 
might commiserate. Some sorrow may then be allowed, 
none loved. For thus dost Thou, O Lord God, who lovest 
souls far more purely than we, and hast more incorruptibly 
pity on them, yet are wounded with no sorrowfulness. And 
who is sufficient for these things?' 

But I, miserable, then loved to grieve, and sought out what , 

to grieve at, when in another's and that feigned and person- j /^ 
ated misery, that acting best pleased me, and attracted me - 

the most vehemently, which drew tears from me. What 
marvel that an unhappy sheep straying from Thy flock, and 
impatient of Thy keeping, I became infected with a foul dis- 
ease ? And hence the love of griefs ; not such as should sink 
deep into me ; for I loved not to suffer, what I loved to look 
on; but such as upon hearing their fictions should lightly . 

scratch the surface; upon which, as on envenomed nails, 
followed inflamed swelling, impostumes, and a putrified sore. 
My life being such, was it life, O my God? ■< 

And Thy faithful mercy hovered over me afar. Upon 
how grievous iniquities consumed I myself, pursuing a sacri- 
legious curiosity, that having forsaken Thee, it might bring 
me to the treacherous abyss, and the beguiling service of 
devils, to whom I sacrificed my evil actions, and in all these 
things Thou didst scourge me! I dared even, while Thy 
solemnities were celebrated within the walls of Thy church, 
to desire, and to compass a business deserving death for its 
fruits, for which Thou scourgedst me with grievous punish- 
ments, though nothing to my fault, O Thou my exceeding 
mercy, my God, my refuge from those terrible destroyers, 
among whom I wandered with a stiff neck, withdrav/ing 
further from Thee, loving mine own ways, and not Thine; 
loving a vagrant liberty. 

'2 Cor. ii. 16. 



S6 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Those studies also, which were accounted commendable, 
had a view to excelling in the courts of litigation; the more 
bepraised, the craftier. Such is men's blindness, glorying 
even in their blindness. And now I was chief in the rhetoric 
school, whereat I joyed proudly, and I swelled with arro- 
gancy, though (Lord, Thou knowest) far quieter and alto- 
gether removed from the subvertings of those " Subverters " 
(for this ill-omened and devilish name was the very badge 
of gallantry) among whom I lived, with a shameless shame 
that I was not even as they. With them I lived, and was 
sometimes delighted with their friendship, whose doings I 
ever did abhor — i. e., their " subvertings," wherewith they 
wantonly persecuted the modesty of strangers, which they 
disturbed by a gratuitous jeering, feeding thereon their 
malicious mirth. Nothing can be liker the very actions of 
devils than these. What then could they be more truly 
called than " subverters " ? themselves subverted and alto- 
gether perverted first, the deceiving spirits secretly deriding 
and seducing them, wherein themselves delight to jeer at, 
and deceive others. 

Among such as these, in that unsettled age of mine, learned 
I books of eloquence, wherein I desired to be eminent, out 
of a damnable and vainglorious end, a joy in human van- 
ity. In the ordinary course of study, I fell upon a certain 
book of Cicero, whose speech almost all admire, not so his 
heart. This book of his contains an exhortation to philos- 
ophy, and is called " Hortensius." But this book altered 
my affections, and turned my prayers to Thyself, O Lord; 
and made me have other purposes and desires. Every vain 
hope at once became worthless to me; and I longed with 
an incredibly burning desire for an immortality of wisdom, 
and began now to arise, that I might return to Thee. For 
not to sharpen my tongue (which thing I seemed to be pur- 
chasing with my mother's allowances, in that my nineteenth 
year, my father being dead two years before), not to sharpen 
my tongue did I employ that book; nor did it infuse into 
me its style, but its matter. 

How did I burn then, my God, how did I burn to re-mount 
from earthly things to Thee, nor knew I what Thou wouldst 
do with me? For with Thee is wisdom. But the love of 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 37 

wisdom is in Greek called " philosophy," with which that book 
inflamed me. Some there be that seduce through philosophy, 
under a great, and smooth, and honourable name colouring 
and disguising their own errors: and almost all who in that 
and former ages were such, are in that book censured and 
set forth: there also is made plain that wholesome advice 
of Thy Spirit, by Thy good and devout servant : Beware lest 
any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after 
the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and 
not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the 
Godhead bodily.^ And since at that time (Thou, O light of 
my heart, knowest) Apostolic Scripture was not known to 
me, I was delighted with that exhortation, so far only, that 
I was thereby strongly roused, and kindled, and inflamed to 
love, and seek, and obtain, and hold, and embrace not this 
or that sect, but wisdom itself whatever it were; and this 
alone checked me thus enkindled, that the name of Christ 
was not in it. For this name, according to Thy mercy, O 
Lord, this name of my Saviour Thy Son, had my tender 
heart, even with my mother's milk, devoutly drunk in, and 
deeply treasured; and whatsoever was without that name, 
though never so learned, polished, or true, took not entire 
hold of me. 

I resolved then to bend my mind to the holy Scriptures, 
that I might see what they were. But behold, I see a thing not 
understood by the proud, nor laid open to children, lowly 
in access, in its recesses lofty, and veiled with mysteries; 
and I was not such as could enter into it, or stoop my neck 
to follow its steps. For not as I now speak, did I feel when 
I turned to those Scriptures ; but they seemed to me unworthy 
to be compared to the stateliness of Tully : for my swelling 
pride shrunk from their lowliness, nor could my sharp wit 
pierce the interior thereof. Yet were they such as would 
grow up in a little one. But I disdained to be a little one; 
and, swollen with pride, took myself to be a great one. 

Therefore I fell among men proudly doting, exceeding 

carnal and prating, in whose mouths were the snares of the 

Devil, limed with the mixture of the syllables of Thy name, 

and of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost, the 

sCol. ii. 8, 9. 



38 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Paraclete, our Comforter. These names departed not out of 
their mouth, but so far forth as the sound only and the 
noise of the tongue, for the heart was void of truth. Yet 
they cried out " Truth, Truth," and spake much thereof to 
me, yet it was not in them:* but they spake falsehood, not of 
Thee only (who truly art Truth), but even of those elements 
of this world. Thy creatures. And I indeed ought to have 
passed by even philosophers who spake truth concerning 
them, for love of Thee, my Father, supremely good, Beauty 
of all things beautiful. O Truth, Truth, how inwardly did 
even then the marrow of my soul pant after Thee, when 
they often and diversly, and in many and huge books, echoed 
of Thee to me, though it was but an echo? And these were 
the dishes wherein to me, hungering after Thee, they, in- 
stead of Thee, served up the Sun and Moon, beautiful works 
of Thine, but yet Thy works, not Thyself, no nor Thy first 
works. For Thy spiritual works are before these corporeal 
works, celestial though they be, and shining. But I hun- 
gered and thirsted not even after those first works of Thine, 
but after Thee Thyself, the Truth, in whom is no variableness, 
neither shadow of turning:^ yet they still set before me in 
those dishes, glittering fantasie_s , than which better were it 
to love this very sun (which is real to our sight at least), 
than those fantasies which by our eyes deceive our mind. 
Yet because I thought them to be Thee, I fed thereon ; not 
eagerly, for Thou didst not in them taste to me as Thou art ; 
for Thou wast not these emptinesses, nor was I nourished by 
them, but exhausted rather. Food in sleep shows very like 
our food awake; yet are not those asleep nourished by it, 
for they are asleep. But those were not even any way like 
to Thee, as Thou hast now spoken to me ; for those were 
corporeal fantasies, false bodies, than which these true bodies, 
celestial or terrestrial, which with our fleshly sight we be- 
hold, are far more certain: these things the beasts and birds 
discern as well as we, and they are more certain than when 
we fancy them. And again, we do with more certainty 
fancy them, than by them conjecture other vaster and infinite 
bodies which have no being. Such empty husks was I then 
fed on ; and was not fed. But Thou, my soul's Love, in look- 

*i John ii. 4. 'James i. 17. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 39 

ing for whom I fail^ that I may become strong, art neither 
those bodies which we see, though in heaven; nor those 
which we see not there ; for Thou hast created them, nor 
dost Thou account them among the chiefest of Thy works. 
How far then art Thou from those fantasies of mine, fan- 
tasies of bodies which altogether are not, than which the , 
images of those bodies, which are, are far more certain, and 
more certain still the bodies themselves, which yet Thou art 
not; no, nor the soul, which is the life of the bodies. So then, 
better and more certain is the life of the bodies than the 
bodies. But Thou art the life of souls, the life of lives, 
having life in Thyself; and changest not, life of my soul. 

Where then wert Thou then to me, and how far from 
me? Far verily was I straying from Thee, barred from 
the very husks of the swine, whom with husks I fed. For 
how much better are the fables of poets and grammarians 
than these snares ? For verses, and poems, and " Medea 
flying," are more profitabk; truly than the se men's five ele- 
ments, variously disguised, answering to_ fiy^g_jien&-Qi..^[arkr^ 
n ess which have no being, yet slay the Jjelieve r. For verses 
and poems i can turn to true food, and "Medea flying," 
though I did sing, I maintained not; though I heard it sung, 
I believed not: but those things I did believe. Woe, woe, 
by what steps was I brought down to the depths of hell T toil- 
ing and turmoiling through want of Truth, since I sought 
after Thee, my God (to Thee I confess it, who hadst mercy 
on me, not as yet confessing), not according to the under- 
standing by the mind, wherein Thou willedst that I should 
excel the beasts, but according to the sense of the flesh. 
But Thou wert more inward to me, than my most inward part ; 
and higher than my highest. I lighted upon that bold woman, 
simple and knoweth nothing, shadowed out in Solomon, sit- 
ting at the door] and saying, Eat ye bread of secrecies will- 
ingly, and drink ye stolen zvaters which are sweet -^ she 
seduced me, because she found my soul dwelling abroad in 
>4the eye of my flesh, and ruminating on such food as through 
it I had devoured. 

For other than this, that which really is I knew not; and 
was, as it were through sharpness of wit, persuaded to assent 

•Ps. Ixix. 3. '' Prov. ix. 18. *Prov. ix. 13-17. 



40 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

to foolish deceivers, when they asked me, " whence is evil ? " 
" is God bounded by a bodily shape, and has hairs and nails ? " 
" are they to be esteemed righteous who had many wives at 
once, and did kill men, and sacrificed living creatures ? "■ At 
which I, in my ignorance, was much troubled, and departing 
from the truth, seemed to myself to be making towards it; 
because as vet I knew not that evil was nothing - but a priva - 
t jon of goo 'd7~ untTl at last a thing ceases altogether to be ; 
which how" should 1 see, the sight ot whose eyes reached 
only to bodies, and of my mind to a phantasm? And I 
knew not God to he a Spirit^" not o ne who hath parts ex- 
t ^ded in length and breadth, or w hose being_w as bulk- fo^r 
every bulk Is less in a part than m tn'e'^holeTand if it be 
infinite, it must be less in such part as is defined by a certain 
space, than in its infinitude; and so is not wholly every 
where, as Spirit, as God. And what that should be in us, 
by which we were like to God, and might in Scripture be 
rightly said to be after the image of God^^ I was altogether 
ignorant. 

Nor knew I that true inward righteousness which judgeth 
not according to custom, but out of the most rightful law 
of God Almighty, whereby the ways of places and times were 
disposed according to those times and places; itself mean- 
time being the same always and every where, one thing in 
one place, and another in another ; according to which Abra- 
ham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses, and David, were 
righteous, and all those commended by the mouth of God; 
but were judged unrighteous by silly men, judging out of 
man's judgment^ and measuring by their own petty habits, 
the moral habits of the whole human race. As if in an 
armory, one ignorant what were adapted to each part should 
cover his head with greaves, or seek to be shod with a helmet, 
and complain that they fitted not : or as if on a" day when busi- 
ness is publicly stopped in the afternoon, one were angered 
at not being allowed to keep open shop, because he had been 
in the forenoon; or when in one house he observeth some 
servant take a thing in his hand, which the butler is not 
suffered to meddle with; or something permitted out of 
doors, which is forbidden in the dining-room; and should 
» I Kings xviii. 40. ^ John iv. 24. " Gen. i. 37. " i Cor. iv. 3. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 41 

be angry, that in one house, and one family, the same thing 
is not allotted every where, and to all. Even such are they 
who are fretted to hear something to have been lawful for 
righteous men formerly, which now is not; or that God, for 
certain temporal respects, commanded them one thing, and 
these another, obeying both the same righteousness : whereas 
they see, in one man, and one day, and one house, different 
things to be fit for different members, and a thing formerly 
lawful, after a certain time not so; in one corner permitted 
or commanded, but in another rightly forbidden and punished. 
Is justice therefore various or mutable? No, but the times, 
over which it presides, flow not evenly, because they are 
times. But men whose days are few upon the earth^ for 
that by their senses they cannot harmonise the causes of 
things in former ages and other nations, which they had no 
experience of, with these which they have experience of, 
whereas in one and the same body, day, or family, they 
easily see what is fitting for each member, and season, part, 
and person; to the one they take exceptions, to the other 
they submit. 

These things I then knew not, nor observed; they struck 
my sight on all sides, and I saw them not. I indited verses, 
in which I might not place every foot every where, but dif- 
ferently in different metres; nor even in any one metre the 
self-same foot in all places. Yet the art itself, by which I 
indited, had not different principles for these different cases, 
but comprised all in one. Still I saw not how that righteous- 
ness, which good and holy men obeyed, did far more ex- 
cellently and sublimely contain in one all those things which 
God commanded, and in no part varied ; although in varying 
times it prescribed not every thing at once, but apportioned 
and enjoined what was fit for each. And I, in my blindness, 
censured the holy Fathers, not only wherein they made use 
of things present as God commanded and inspired them, 
but also wherein they were foretelling things to come, as 
God was revealing in them. 

Can it at any time or place be unjust to love God with all 
his heart, zvith all his soul, and with all his mind; and his 
neighbour as himself f^^ Therefore are those foul offences 

" Job xiv. I. " Matt. xxii. 37-39. 



42 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

which be against nature, to be every where and at all times 
detested and punished: such as were those of the men of Sod- 
om; which should all nations commit, they should all stand 
guilty of the same crime, by the law of God, which hath not so 
made men that they should so abuse one another. For even 
that intercourse which should be between God and us is 
violated, when that same nature, of which He is Author, 
is polluted by perversity of lust. But those actions which are 
ofifences against the customs of men, are to be avoided accord- 
ing to the customs severally prevailing; so that a thing 
agreed upon, and confirmed, by custom or law of any city 
' or nation, may not be violated at the lawless pleasure of any, 
whether native or foreigner. For any part which harmon- 
iseth not with its whole, is offensive. But when God com- 
mands a thing to be done, against the customs or compact of 
any people, though it were never by them done heretofore, 
it is to be done; and if intermitted, it is to be restored; 
and if never ordained, is now to be ordained. For lawful 
if it be for a king, in the state which he reigns over, to com- 
mand that which no one before him, nor he himself hereto- 
fore, had commanded, and to obey him cannot be against 
the common weal of the state (nay, it were against it if he 
were not obeyed, for to obey princes is a general compact 
of human society) ; how much more unhesitatingly ought we 
to obey God, in all which He commands, the Ruler of all 
His creatures ! For as among the powers in man's society, 
the greater authority is obeyed in preference to the lesser, 
so must God above all. 

So in acts of violence, where there is a wish to hurt, 
whether by reproach or injury; and these either for revenge, 
as one enemy against another; or for some profit belonging 
to another, as the robber to the traveller; or to avoid some 
evil, as towards one who is feared; or through envy, as one 
less fortunate to one more so, or one well thriven in any 
thing, to him whose being on a par with himself he fears, 
or grieves at, or for the mere pleasure at another's pain, 
as spectators of gladiators, or deriders and mockers of others. 
These be the heads of iniquity, which spring from the lust 
of the flesh, of the eye," or of rule, either singly, or two 

" I John ii. 1 6. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 43 

combined, or all together; and so do men live ill against the 
three, and seven, that psaltery of ten strings^ Thy Ten Com- 
mandments, O God, most high, and most sweet. But what 
foul offences can there be against Thee, who canst not be 
defiled? or what acts of violence against Thee, who canst 
not be harmed? But Thou avengest what men commit 
against themselves, seeing also when they sin against Thee, 
they do wickedly against their own souls, and iniquity gives 
itself the lie" by corrupting and perverting their nature, 
which Thou hast created and ordained, or by an immoderate 
use of things allowed, or in htirning in things unallowed, to 
that use which is against nature;^ or are found guilty, rag- 
ing with heart and tongue against Thee, kicking against the 
pricks;^ or when, bursting the pale of human society, they 
boldly joy in self-willed combinations or divisions, according 
as they have any object to gain or subject of offence. And 
these things are done when Thou art forsaken, O Fountain 
of Life, who art the only and true Creator and Governor of 
the Universe, and by a self-willed pride, any one false thing 
is selected therefrom and loved. So then by a humble devout- 
ness we return to Thee; and Thou cleansest us from our 
evil habits, and art merciful to their sins who confess, and 
hear est the groaning of the prisoner, '^ and loosest us from 
the chains which we made for ourselves, if v ^ lift not up_ 

loss of all thr ough covetousness of more , bv Inving- mnrg 
oi ir own private p;-oocl than Thee the Gnr^^ of all. 

Amidst these offences of foulness and violence, and so 
many iniquities, are sins of men, who are on the whole 
making proficency; which by those that judge rightly, 
are, after the rule of perfection, discommended, yet the per- 
sons commended, upon hope of future fruit, as in the green 
blade of growing corn. And there are some, resembling 
offences of foulness or violence, which yet are no sins; be- 
cause they offend neither Thee, our Lord God, nor human 
society; when, namely, things fitting for a given period are 
obtained for the service of life, and we know not whether 
out of a lust of having; or when things are, for the sake 

i« Ps. cxHv. 9. " Ps. xxvi. 12.— Vulg. " Rom. i. 
i»Acts ix. 5. »P8. cii. 20. 



44 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

of correction, by constituted authority punished, and we 
know not whether out of a lust of hurting. Many an action 
then w.hich in men's sight is disapproved, is by Thy testi- 
mony approved; and many, by men praised are (Thou being 
witness) condemned: because the show of the action, and 
the mind of the doer, and the unknown exigency of the 
period, severally vary. But when Thou on a sudden com- 
mandest an unwonted and unthought of thing, yea, although 
Thou hast sometime forbidden it, and still for the time 
hidest the reason of Thy command, and it be against the 
ordinance of some society of men, who doubts but it is to 
be done, seeing that society of men is just which serves 
Thee? But blessed are they who know Thy commands! 
For all things were done by Thy servants; either to show 
forth something needful for the present, or to foreshow 
things to come. 

These things I being ignorant of, scoffed at those Thy 
holy servants and prophets. And what gained I by scoffing 
at them, but to be scoffed at by Thee, being insensibly and 
step by step drawn on to those follies, as to believe that a 
fig-tree wept when it was plucked, and the tree, its mother, 
shed milky tears? Which fig notwithstanding (plucked by 
some other's, not his own, guilt) had some (Manichaean) 
saint eaten, and mingled with his bowels, he should breathe 
out of it angels, yea, there shall burst forth particles of 
divinity, at every moan or groan in his prayer, which 
particles of the most high and true God had remained bound 
in that fig, unless they had been set at liberty by the teeth 
or belly of some " Elect " saint ! And I, miserable, believed 
that more mercy was to be shown to the fruits of the earth 
than men, for whom they were created. For if any one an 
hungered, not a Manichc-ean, should ask for any, that morsel 
would seem as it were condemned to capital punishment, 
which should be given him. 

And Thou sent est Thine hand from above, '^ and drewest 
my soul out of that profound darkness, my mother, thy faith- 
ful one, weeping to Thee for me, more than mothers weep 
the bodily deaths of their children. For she, by that faith 
and spirit which she had from Thee, discerned the death 

» Ps. cxliv. 7. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 45 

wherein I lay, and Thou heardest her, O Lord; Thou 
heardest her, and despisedst not her tears, when streaming 
down, they watered the ground under her eyes in every place 
where she prayed, yea Thou heardest her. For whence 
was that dream whereby Thou comfortedst her; so that she 
allowed me to live with her, and to eat at the same table 
in the house, which she had begun to shrink from, abhorring 
and detesting the blasphemies of my error? For she saw 
herself standing on a certain wooden rule, and a shining 
youth coming towards her, cheerful and smiling upon her, 
herself grieving, and overwhelmed with grief. But he hav- 
ing (in order to instruct, as is their wont not to be in- 
structed) enquired of her the causes of her grief and daily 
tears, and she answering that she was bewailing my per- 
dition, he bade her rest contented, and told her to look and 
observe, " That where she was, there was I also." And 
when she looked, she saw me standing by her in the same 
rule. Whence was this, but that Thine ears were towards 
her heart? O Thou Good omnipotent, who so carest for 
every one of us, as if Thou caredst for him only; and so 
for all, as if they were but one ! 

Whence was this also, that when she had told me this 
vision, and I would fain bend it to mean, " That she rather 
should not despair of being one day what I was ; " she 
presently, without any hesitation, replies : " No ; for it was 
not told me that, ' where he, there thou also ; ' but ' where 
thou, there he also ' " ? I confess to Thee, O Lord, that to 
the best of my remembrance (and I have oft spoken of this), 
that Thy answer, through my waking mother, — that she was 
not perplexed by the plausibility of my false interpretation, 
and so quickly saw what was to be seen, and which I cer- 
tainly had not perceived before she spake, — even then moved 
me more than the dream itself, by which a joy to the holy 
woman, to be fulfilled so long after, was, for the consola- 
tion of her present anguish, so long before foresignified. For 
almost nine years passed, in which I wallowed in the mire 
of that deep pit, and the darkness of falsehood, often assay- 
ing to rise, but dashed down the more grievously. All which 
time that chaste, godly and sober widow (such as Thou 
lovest), now more cheered with hope, yet no whit relaxing 



46 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

in her weeping and mourning, ceased not at all hours of 
her devotions to bewail my case unto Thee. And her 
prayers entered into Thy presence f and yet Thou sufferest 
me to be yet involved and reinvolved in that darkness. 

Thou gavest her meantime another answer, which I call 
to mind ; for much I pass by, hasting to those things which 
more press me to confess unto Thee, and much I do not 
remember. Thou gavest her then another answer, by a 
Priest of Thine, a certain Bishop brought up in Thy Church, 
and well studied in Thy books. Whom when this woman 
had entreated to vouchsafe to converse with me, refute 
my errors, unteach me ill things, and teach me good things 
(for this he was wont to do, when he found persons fitted 
to receive it), he refused, wisely, as I afterwards perceived. 
For he answered, that I was yet unteachable, being puffed 
up with the novelty of that heresy, and had already perplexed 
divers unskilful persons with captious questions, as she had 
told him: "but let him alone a while" (saith he), "only 
pray God for him, he will of himself by reading find what 
that error is, and how great its impiety." At the same time 
he told her, how himself, when a little one, had by his 
seduced mother been consigned over to the Manichees, and 
had not only read, but frequently copied out almost all, their 
books, and had (without any argument or proof from any 
one) seen how much that sect was to be avoided; and had 
avoided it. Which when he had said, and she would not be 
satisfied, but urged him more, with entreaties and many 
tears, that he would see me and discourse with me; he, 
a little displeased at her importunity, saith, " Go thy ways, 
and God bless thee, for it is not _£()ssibl^ that the son of 
tjjese tears should perislT" WEich answer she took (al 
she often mentioned in her conversations with me) as if it 
had sounded from heaven. 

** Ps. Ixxxviii. I. 



THE FOURTH BOOK 

Augfustine's life from nineteen to eight-and-twenty; himself a Mani- 
chsean, and seducing others to the same heresy ; partial obedience 
amidst vanity and sin, consulting astrologers, only partially shaken 
herein ; loss of an early friend, who is converted by being bap- 
tised when in a swoon ; reflections on grief, on real and unreal 
friendship, and love of fame ; writes on "the fair and fit," yet 
cannot rightly, though God had given him great talents, since he 
entertained wrong notions of God ; and so even his knowledge 
he applied ill 

FOR this space of nine years then (from my nineteenth 
year to my eight-and-twentieth) we lived seduced and 
seducing, deceived and deceiving, in divers lusts; 
openly, by sciences which they call liberal; secretly, with 
a false-named religion; here proud, there superstitious, 
every where vain ! Here, hunting after the emptiness of 
popular praise, down even to theatrical applauses, and poetic 
prizes, and strifes for grassy garlands, and the follies of 
shows, and the intemperance of desires. There, desiring to 
be cleansed from these defilements, by carrying food to those 
who were called "elect" and "holy," out of which, in 
the workhouse of their stomachs, they should forge for us 
Angels and Gods, by whom we might be cleansed. These 
things did I follow, and practise with my friends, deceived 
by me, and with me. Let the arrogant mock me, and such 
as have not been, to their soul's health, stricken and cast 
down by Thee, O my God ; but I would still confess to Thee 
mine own shame in Thy praise. Suffer me, I beseech Thee, 
and give me grace to go over in my present remembrance 
the wanderings of my forepassed time, and to offer unto 
Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving} For what am I to 
myself without Thee, but a guide to mine own downfall? or 

* Ps. xlix. 14. 
47 



48 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

what am I even at the best, but an infant sucking the milk 
Thou givest, and feeding upon Thee, the food that perisheth 
not?' But what sort of man is any man, seeing he is but 
a man? Let now the strong and the mighty laugh at us, but 
let us poor and needy' confess unto Thee. 

In those years I taught rhetoric, and, overcome by cupid- 
ity, made sale of a loquacity to overcome by. Yet I preferred 
(Lord, Thou knowest) honest scholars (as they are ac- 
counted), and these I, without artifice, taught artifices, not 
to be practised against the life of the guiltless, though some- 
times for the life of the guilty. And Thou, O God, from afar 
perceivedst me stumbling in that slippery course, and amid 
much smoke sending out some sparks of faithfulness, which 
I showed in that my guidance of such as loved vanity, and 
sought after leasing* myself their companion. In those 
years I had one, — not in that which is called lawful mar- 
riage, but whom I had found out in a wayward passion, void 
of understanding; yet but one, remaining faithful even to 
her; in whom I in my own case experienced what difference 
there is betwixt the self-restraint of the marriage-covenant, 
for the sake of issue, and the bargain of a lustful love, where 
children are born against their parents' will, although, once 
born, they constrain love. 

I remember also, that when I had settled to enter the 
lists for a theatrical prize, some wizard asked me what 
I would give him to win; but I, detesting and abhorring 
such foul mysteries, answered, " Though the garland were 
of imperishable gold, I would not suffer a fly to be killed 
to gain me it." For he was to kill some living creatures in 
his sacrifices, and by those honours to invite the devils to 
favour me. But this ill also I rejected, not out of a pure 
love for Thee, O God of my heart; for I knew not how to 
love Thee, who knew not how to conceive aught beyond a 
material brightness. And doth not a soul, sighing after such 
fictions, commit fornication against Thee, trust in things 
unreal, and feed the windf Still I would not forsooth have 
sacrifices offered to devils for me, to whom I was sacrificing 
myself by that superstition. For what else is it to feed the 

•John vi. 27. •Ps. Ixxiii. 21. *Is. xlii. 5; Matt xii. 20; Ps. iv. 2, 
*Hos. xii. X. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 49 

wind, but to feed them, that is, by going astray to become 
their pleasure and derision? 

Those impostors then, whom they style Mathematicians, 
I consulted without scruple; because they seemed to use no 
sacrifice, nor to pray to any spirit for their divinations: 
which art, however. Christian and true piety consistently 
rejects and condemns. For, it is a good thing to confess 
unto Thee, and to say, Have mercy upon me, heal my 
soul, for I have sinned against Thee;* and not to abuse Thy 
mercy for a licence to sin, but to remember the Lord's words, 
Behold, thou art made whole, sin no more, lest a worse 
thing come unto theeJ All which wholesome advice they 
labour to destroy, saying, " The cause of thy sin is inevitably 
determined in heaven ; " and " This did Venus, or Saturn, 
or Mars : " that man, forsooth, flesh and blood, and proud cor- 
ruption, might be blameless; while the Creator and Ordainer 
of heaven and the stars is to bear the blame. And who is He 
but our God? the very sweetness and well-spring of right- 
eousness, who render est to every man according to his works: 
and a broken and contrite heart wilt Thou not despise.' 

There was in those days a wise man, very skilful in physic, 
and renowned therein, who had with his own proconsular 
hand put the Agonistic garland upon my distempered head, 
but not as a physician: for this disease Thou only curest, 
who resistest the proud, and givest grace to the humbled 
But didst Thou fail me even by that old man, or forbear 
to heal my soul? For having become more acquainted with 
him, and hanging assiduously and fixedly on his speech 
(for though in simple terms, it was vivid, lively, and ear- 
nest), when he had gathered by my discourse that I was 
given to the books of nativity-casters, he kindly and fatherly 
advised me to cast them away, and not fruitlessly bestow 
a care and diligence, necessary for useful things, upon these 
vanities; saying, that he had in his earliest years studied 
that art, so as to make it the profession whereby he should 
live, and that, understanding Hippocrates, he could soon 
have understood such a study as this; and yet he had given 
it over, and taken to physic, for no other reason but that 

•Ps. xli, 4. 'John V. 14, 'Rom. ii. 6; Matt. xvi. 27; Ps. li. 17. 
» I Pet. V. s ; Jam. iv. 6. 



so THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

he found it utterly false ; and he, a grave man, would not 
get his living by deluding people. " But thou," saith he, 
" hast rhetoric to maintain thyself by, so that thou followest 
this of free choice, not of necessity: the more then oughtest 
thou to give me credit herein, who laboured to acquire it so 
perfectly as to get my living by it alone." Of whom when 
I had demanded, how then could many true things be fore- 
told by it, he answered me (as he could) " that the force 
of chance, diffused throughout the whole order of things, 
brought this about. For if when a man by haphazard opens 
the pages of some poet, who sang and thought of something 
wholly different, a verse oftentimes fell out, wondrously 
agreeable to the present business: it were not to be won- 
dered at, if out of the soul of man, unconscious what takes 
place in it, by some higher instinct an answer should be 
given, by hap, not by art, corresponding to the business and 
actions of the demander." 

And thus much, either from or through him, Thou con- 
veyedst to me, and tracedst in my memory, what I might 
hereafter examine for myself. But at that time neither he, 
nor my dearest Nebridius, a youth singularly good and of 
a holy fear, who derided the whole body of divination, could 
persuade me to cast it aside, the authority of the authors 
swaying me yet more, and as yet I had found no certain 
proof (such as I sought) whereby it might without all doubt 
appear, that what had been truly foretold by those consulted 
was the result of haphazard, not of the art of the star-gazers. 

In those years when I first began to teach rhetoric in 
my native town, I had made one my friend, but too dear to 
me, from a community of pursuits, of mine own age, and, 
as myself, in the first opening flower of youth. He had 
grown up a child with me, and we had been both school- 
fellows and play-fellows. But he was not yet my friend as 
afterwards, nor even then, as true friendship is; for true 
it cannot be, unless in such as Thou cementest together, 
cleaving unto Thee, by that love which is shed abroad in our 
hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto uj.^* Yet 
was it but too sweet, ripened by the warmth of kindred 
studies: for, from the true faith (which he as a youth had 
»»Rom. ▼. 5. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 51 

not soundly and thoroughly imbibed), I had warped him 
also to those superstitious and pernicious fables, for which 
my mother bewailed me. With me he now erred in mind, 
nor could my soul be without him. But behold Thou wert 
close on the steps of Thy fugitives, at once God of ven- 
geance,^'^ and Fountain of mercies, turning us to Thyself 
by wonderful means; Thou tookest that man out of this 
life, when he had scarce filled up one whole year of my 
friendship, sweet to me above all sweetness of that my life. 

Who can recount all Thy praises/' which he hath felt 
in his one self? What diddest Thou then, my God, and 
how unsearchable is the abyss of Thy judgments ?^^ For 
long, sore sick of a fever, he lay senseless in a death-sweat ; 
and his recovery being despaired of, he was baptised, un- 
knowing; myself meanwhile little regarding, and presum- 
ing that his soul would retain rather what it had received 
of me, not what was wrought on his unconscious body. But 
it proved far otherwise; for he was refreshed, and restored. 
Forthwith, as soon as I could speak with him (and I could, 
so soon as he was able, for I never left him, and we hung 
but too much upon each other), I essayed to jest with him, 
as though he would jest with me at that baptism which he 
had received, when utterly absent in mind and feeling, but 
had now understood that he had received. But he so shrunk 
from me, as from an enemy; and with a wonderful and 
sudden freedom bade me, as I would continue his friend, 
forbear such language to him. I, all astonished and amazed, 
suppressed all my emotions till he should grow well, and his 
health were strong enough for me to deal with him as I 
would. But he was taken away from my frenzy, that with 
Thee he might be preserved for my comfort; a few days 
after, in my absence, he was attacked again by the fever, 
and so departed. 

At this grief my heart was utterly darkened; and what- 
ever I beheld was death. My native country was a torment 
to me, and my father's house a strange unhappiness; and 
whatever I had shared with him, wanting him, became a 
distracting torture. Mine eyes sought him every where, 
but he was not granted them; and I hated all places, for 

^Ps. xciv. I. "Ps. cvi. 2. *»Ps. xxxvi. 2. 



52 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

\ that they had not him; nor could they now tell me, "he is 
\ coming," as when he was alive and absent. I became a great 
riddle to myself, and I asked my soul, why she was so sad, 
and why she disquieted me sorely:^* but she knew not what 
to answer me. And if I said, Trust in God, she very rightly 
obeyed me not; because that most dear friend, whom she 
had lost, was, being man, both truer and better than that 
phantasm she was bid to trust in. Only tears were sweet 
to me, for they succeeded my friend, in the dearest of my 
affections. 

And now. Lord, these things are passed by, and time hath 
assuaged my wound. May I learn from Thee, who art 
Truth, and approach the ear of my heart unto Thy mouth, 
that Thou mayest tell me why weeping is sweet to the mis- 
erable? Hast Thou, although present every where, cast 
away our misery far from Thee? And Thou abidest in 
Thyself, but we are tossed about in divers trials. And 
yet unless we mourned in Thine ears, we should have no 
hope left. Whence then is sweet fruit gathered from the 
bitterness of life, from groaning, tears, sighs, and com- 
plaints? Doth this sweeten it, that we hope Thou hearest? 
This is true of prayer, for therein is a longing to approach 
unto Thee. But is it also in grief for a thing lost, and 
the sorrow wherewith I was then overwhelmed? For I 
neither hoped he should return to life nor did I desire this 
with my tears; but I wept only and grieved. For I was 
miserable, and had lost my joy. Or is weeping indeed a 
bitter thing, and for very loathing of the things which we 
before enjoyed, does it then, when we shrink from them, 
please us? 

But what speak I of these things? for now is no time to 
question, but to confess unto Thee. Wretched I was; and 
wretched is every soul bound by the friendship of perishable 
things; he is torn asunder when he loses them, and then 
he feels the wretchedness which he had ere yet he lost them. 
So was it then with me; I wept most bitterly, and found 
my repose in bitterness. Thus was I wretched, and that 
wretched life I held dearer than my friend. For though I 
would willingly have changed it, yet was I more unwilling 

"Ps. xlii. 5. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 53 

to part with it than with him; yea, I know not whether 
I would have parted with it even for him, as is related (if 
not feigned) of Py lades and Orestes, that they would gladly 
have died for each other or together, not to live together 
being to them worse than death. But in me there had 
arisen some unexplained feeling, too contrary to this, for 
at once I loathed exceedingly to live and feared to die. 
I suppose, the more I loved him, the more did I hate, and 
fear (as a most cruel enemy) death, which had bereaved me 
of him : and I imagined it would speedily make an end of 
all men, since it had power over him. Thus was it with me, 
I remember. Behold my heart, O my God, behold and see 
into me ; for well I remember it, O my Hope, who cleansest 
me from the impurity of such affections, directing mine eyes 
towards Thee, and plucking my feet out of the snare.^ For 
I wondered that others, subject to death, did live, since he 
whom I loved, as if he should never die, was dead; and I 
wondered yet more that myself, who was to him a second 
self, could live, he being dead. Well said one of his friend, 
" Thou half of my soul ; " for I felt that my soul and his 
soul were " one soul in two bodies : " and therefore was my 
life a horror to me, because I would not live halved. And 
therefore perchance I feared to die, lest he whom I had 
much loved should die wholly. 

O madness, which knowest not how to love men, like 
men ! O foolish man that I then was, enduring impatiently 
the lot of man ! I fretted then, sighed, wept, was distracted ; 
had neither rest nor counsel. For I bore about a shattered 
and bleeding soul, impatient of being borne by me, yet where 
to repose it, I found not. Not in calm groves, not in games 
and music, nor in fragrant spots, nor in curious banquetings, 
nor in the pleasures of the bed and the couch; nor (finally) 
in books or poesy, found it repose. All things looked ghastly, 
yea, the very light; whatsoever was not what he was, was 
revolting and hateful, except groaning and tears. For in 
those alone found I a little refreshment. But when my soul 
was withdrawn from them a huge load of misery weighed 
me down. To Thee, O Lord, it ought to have been raised, 
for Thee to lighten ; I knew it ; but neither could nor would ; 

"Ps. XXV. 14. 



54 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

the more, since, when I thought of Thee, Thou wert not 
to me any solid or substantial thing. For Thou wert not 
Thyself, but a mere phantom, and my error was my God. 
If I offered to discharge my load thereon, that it might 
rest, it glided through the void, and came rushing down 
again on me; and I had remained to myself a hapless spot, 
where I could neither be, nor be from thence. For whither 
should my heart flee from my heart? Whither should I flee 
from myself? Whither not follow myself? And yet I fled 
out of my country; for so should mine eyes less look for 
him, where they were not wont to see him. And thus from 
Thagaste, I came to Carthage. 

Times lose no time ; nor do they roll idly by ; through our 
senses they work strange operations on the mind. Behold, 
they went and came day by day, and by coming and going, 
introduced into my mind other imaginations and other re- 
membrances; and little by little patched me up again with 
my old kind of delights, unto which that my sorrow gave 
way. And yet there succeeded, not indeed other griefs, yet 
the causes of other griefs. For whence had that former 
grief so easily reached my very inmost soul, but that I had 
poured out my soul upon the dust, in loving one that must 
die, as if he would never die? For what restored and re- 
freshed me chiefly was the solaces of other friends, with 
whom I did love, what instead of Thee I loved; and this 
was a great fable, and protracted lie, by whose adulterous 
stimulus, our soul, which lay itching in our ears, was being 
defiled. But that fable would not die to me, so oft as any 
of my friends died. There were other things which in them 
did more take my mind; to talk and jest together, to do 
kind offices by turns; to read together honied books; to 
play the fool or be earnest together; to dissent at times 
without discontent, as a man might with his own self; and 
even with the seldomness of these dissentings, to season 
our more frequent consentings; sometimes to teach, and 
sometimes learn; long for the absent with impatience; 
and welcome the coming with joy. These and the like 
expressions, proceeding out of the hearts of those that 
loved and were loved again, by the countenance, the 
tongue, the eyes, and a thousand pleasing gestures, were 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 55 

so touch fuel to melt our souls together, and out of many- 
make but one. 

This is it that is loved in friends; and so loved, that a 
man's conscience condemns itself, if he love not him that 
loves him again, or love not again him that loves him, look- 
ing for nothing from his person but indications of his love. 
Hence that mourning, if one die, and darkenings of sorrows, 
that steeping of the heart in tears, all sweetness turned to 
bitterness ; and upon the loss of life of the dying, the death 
of the living. Blessed whoso loveth Thee, and his friend in 
Thee, and his enemy for Thee. For he alone loses none 
dear to him, to whom all are dear in Him who cannot be 
lost. And who is this but our God, the God that made heaven 
and earth, and Hlleth them,^' because by filling them He 
created them? Thee none loseth, but who leaveth. And 
who leaveth Thee, whither goeth or whither fleeth he, but 
from Thee well-pleased, to Thee displeased? For where 
doth he not find Thy law in his own punishment? And 
Thy law is truth" and truth Thou. 

Turn us, O God of Hosts, show us Thy countenance, and 
we shall be whole.^ For whithersoever the soul of man 
turns itself, unless towards Thee, it is riveted upon sorrows, 
yea though it is riveted on things beautiful. And yet they, 
out of Thee, and out of the soul, were not, unless they were 
from Thee. They rise, and set; and by rising, they begin 
as it were to be; they grow, that they may be perfected; 
and perfected, they wax old and wither; and all grow not 
old, but all wither. So then when they rise and tend to be, 
the more quickly they grow that they may be, so much the 
more they haste not to be. This is the law of them. Thus 
much hast Thou allotted them, because they are portions 
of things, which exist not all at once, but by passing away 
and succeeding, they together complete that universe, 
whereof they are portions. And even thus is our speech 
completed by signs giving forth a sound: but this again 
is not perfected unless one word pass away when it hath 
sounded its part, that another may succeed. Out of all these 
things let my soul praise Thee, O God, Creator of all; yet 
let not my soul be riveted unto these things with the glue 

^« Gen. ii. 24; Jer. xxiii. 24. " Ps. cxix, 143; John xiv. 6. ^Ps. Ixxx. 19. 



56 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

of love, through the senses of the body. For they go whither 
they were to go, that they might not be; and they rend her 
with pestilent longings, because she longs to be, yet loves 
to repose in what she loves. But in these things is no place 
of repose; they abide not, they flee; and who can follow 
them with the senses of the flesh ? yea, who can grasp them, 
when they are hard by? For the sense of the flesh is slow, 
because it is the sense of the flesh ; and thereby is it bounded. 
It sufficeth; for that it was made for; but it sufiiceth not 
to stay things running their course from their appointed 
starting-place to the end appointed. For in Thy Word, 
by which they are created, they hear their decree, " hence 
and hitherto." 

Be not foolish, O my soul, nor become deaf in the ear 
of thine heart with the tumult of thy folly. Hearken thou 
too. The Word itself calleth thee to return: and there is 
the place of rest imperturbable, where love is not forsaken, 
if itself forsaketh not. Behold, these things pass away, that 
others may replace them, and so this lower universe be com- 
pleted by all his parts. But do I depart any whither? saith 
the Word of God. There fix thy dwelling, trust there what- 
soever thou hast thence, O my soul, at least now thou art 
tired out with vanities. Entrust Truth, whatsoever thou 
hast from the Truth, and thou shalt lose nothing; and thy 
decay shall bloom again, and all thy diseases be healed,^" and 
thy mortal parts be reformed and renewed, and bound around 
thee : nor shall they lay thee whither themselves descend ; but 
they shall stand fast with thee, and abide for ever before 
God, who abideth and standeth fast for ever.^ 

Why then be perverted and follow thy flesh? Be it con- 
verted and follow thee. Whatever by her thou hast sense 
of, is in part; and the whole, whereof these are parts, thou 
knowest not, and yet they delight thee. But had the sense 
of thy flesh a capacity for comprehending the whole, and 
not itself also, for thy punishment, been justly restricted to a 
part of the whole, thou wouldest, that whatsoever existeth 
at this present, should pass away, that so the whole might 
better please thee. For what we speak also, by the same 
sense of the flesh thou hearest; yet wouldest not thou have 

» Ps. ciii. 3. » I Pet i. 23. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 57 

the syllables stay, but fly away, that others may come, and 
thou hear the whole. And so ever, when any one thing is 
made up of many, all of which do not exist together, all col- 
lectively would please more than they do severally, could all 
be perceived collectively. But far better than these is He 
who made all; and He is our God, nor doth He pass away, 
for neither doth aught succeed Him. 

If bodies please thee, praise God on occasion of them, 
and turn back thy love upon their Maker; lest in these things 
which please thee, thou displease, li souls please thee, be 
they loved in God: for they too are mutable, but in Him are 
they firmly stablished; else would they pass, and pass away. 
In Him then be they beloved; and carry unto Him along 
with thee what souls thou canst, and say to them, " Him 
let us love, Him let us love: He made these, nor is He far 
off. For He did not make them, and so depart, but they are 
of Him, and in Him. See there He is, where truth is loved. 
He is within the very heart, yet hath the heart strayed 
from Him. Go back into your heart, ye transgressors, and 
cleave fast to Him that made you. Stand with Him, and ye 
shall stand fast. Rest in Him, and ye shall be at rest. 
Whither go ye in rough ways? Whither go ye? The good 
that you love is from Him; but it is good and pleasant 
through reference to Him, and justly shall it be embittered, 
because unjustly is anything loved which is from Him, if 
He be forsaken for it. To what end then would ye still 
and still walk these difficult and toilsome ways? There is 
no rest, where ye seek it. Seek what ye seek; but it is not 
there where ye seek. Ye seek a blessed life in the land of 
death; it is not there. For how should there be a blessed 
life where life itself is not?" 

" But our true Life came down hither, and bore our death, 
and slew him, out of the abundance of His own life: and 
He thundered, calling aloud to us to return hence to Him 
into that secret place, whence He came forth to us, first into 
the virgin's womb, wherein he espoused the hmnan creation, 
our mortal flesh, that it might not be for ever mortal, and 
thence like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, rejoic- 
ing as a giant to run his course.^ For He lingered not, but 

■^ Ps. xix. 5. 



58 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

ran, calling aloud by words, deeds, death, life, descent, as- 
cension; crying aloud to us to return unto Him. And He 
departed from our eyes, that we might return into our heart, 
and there find Him. For He departed, and lo. He is here. 
He would not be long with us, yet left us not ; for He departed 
thither, whence He never parted, because the zvorld was made 
by Himr' And in this world He was, and into this world He 
came to save sinners/^ unto whom my soul confesseth, and 
He healeth it, for it hath sinned against Him.^ O ye sons 
of men, how long so sloiv of heart f^ Even now, after the 
descent of Life to you, will ye not ascend and live? But 
whither ascend ye, when ye are on high, and set your mouth 
against the heavens f^ Descend, that ye may ascend, and 
ascend to God. For ye have fallen, by ascending against 
Him." Tell them this, that they may weep in the valley of 
tears," and so carry them up with thee unto God; because 
out of His Spirit thou speakest thus unto them, if thou 
speakest, burning with the fire of charity. 

These things I then knew not, and I loved these lower 
beauties, and I was sinking to the very depths, and to my 
friends I said, " Do we love any thing but the beautiful ? 
What then is the beautiful? and what is beauty? What is 
it that attracts and wins us to the things we love ? for unless 
there were in them a grace and beauty, they could by no 
means draw us unto them." And I marked and perceived 
that in bodies themselves, there was a beauty, from their 
forming a sort of whole, and again, another from apt and 
mutual correspondence, as of a part of the body with its 
whole, or a shoe with a foot, and the like. And this con- 
sideration sprang up in my mind, out of my inmost heart, and 
I wrote " on the fair and fit," I think, two or three books. 
Thou knowest, O Lord, for it is gone from me; for I have 
them not, but they are strayed from me, I know not how. 

But what moved me, O Lord my God, to dedicate these 
books unto Hierius, an orator of Rome, whom I knew not by 
face, but loved for the fame of his learning which was 
eminent in him, and some words of his I had heard, which 
pleased me? But more did he please me, for that he pleased 

a John i. lo. '» i Tim. i. 15. " Ps. xli. 4. » Ps. iv. 3.— Vulg. 
»Ps. Ixxiii. 9. "Ps. bocxiv. 6. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 59 

others, who highly extolled him, amazed that out of a Syrian, 
first instructed in Greek eloquence, should afterwards be 
formed a wonderful Latin orator, and one most learned in 
things pertaining unto philosophy. One is commended, and, 
unseen, he is loved: doth this love enter the heart of the 
hearer from the mouth of the commender ? Not so. But by 
one who loveth is another kindled. For hence he is loved 
who is commended, when the commender is believed to 
extol him with an unfeigned heart; that is, when one that 
loves him praises him. 

For so did I then love men, upon the judgment of men, 
not Thine, O my God, in whom no man is deceived. But 
yet why not for qualities, like those of a famous charioteer, 
or fighter with the beasts in the theatre, known far and 
wide by a vulgar popularity, but far otherwise, and earnestly, 
and so as I would be myself commended? For I would not 
be commended or loved, as actors are (though I myself did 
commend and love them), but had rather be unknown, than 
so known ; and even hated, than so loved. Where now are 
the impulses to such various and divers kinds of loves laid 
up in one soul? Why, since we are equally men, do I love 
in another what, if I did not hate, I should not spurn and 
cast from myself? For it holds not. that as a good horse is 
loved by him, who would not, though he might, be that horse, 
therefore the same may be said of an actor, who shares our 
nature. Do I then love in a man, what I hate to be, who 
am a man? Man himself is a great deep, whose very hairs 
Thou mimberestj O Lord, and they fall not to the ground 
without Thee^ And yet are the hairs of his head easier to 
be numbered than are his feelings, and the beatings of his 
heart. 

But that orator was of that sort whom I loved, as wishing 
to be myself such ; and I erred through a swelling pride, and 
was tossed about tvith every zvind^ but yet was steered by 
Thee, though very secretly. And whence do I know, and 
whence do I confidently confess unto Thee, that I had loved 
him more for the love of his commenders, than for the very 
things for which he was commended? Because, had he been 
unpraised, and these self-same men had dispraised him, and 

28 Matt. X. 29, 30. ** Eph. iv. 14. 



60 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

with dispraise and contempt told the very same things of 
him, I had never been so kindled and excited to love him. 
And yet the things had not been other, nor he himself other ; 
but only the feelings of the relators. See w^here the impotent 
soul lies along, that is not yet stayed up by the solidity of 
truth ! Just as the gales of tongues blow from the breast of 
the opinionative, so is it carried this way and that, driven 
forward and backward, and the light is overclouded to 
it, and the truth unseen. And lo, it is before us. And 
it was to me a great matter, that my discourse and labours 
should be known to that man: which should he approve, I 
were the more kindled, but if he disapproved, my empty heart, 
void of Thy solidity, had been wounded. And yet the " fair 
and fit," whereon I wrote to him, I dwelt on with pleasure, 
and surveyed it, and admired it, though none joined therein. 
But I saw not yet, whereon this weighty matter turned 
in Thy wisdom, O Thou Omnipotent, wJw only doest won- 
ders;^ and my mind ranged through corporeal forms; and 
" fair," I defined and distinguished what is so in itself, 
and " fit," whose beauty is in correspondence to some other 
thing: and this I supported by corporeal examples. And 
I turned to the nature of the mind, but the false notion which 
I had of spiritual things, let me not see the truth. Yet the 
force of truth did of itself flash into mine eyes, and I turned 
away my panting soul from incorporeal substance to linea- 
ments, and colours, and bulky magnitudes. And not being 
able to see these in the mind, I thought I could not see my 
mind. And whereas in virtue I loved peace, and in vicious- 
ness I abhorred discord; in the first I observed a unity, but 
in the other, a sort of division. And in that unity I conceived 
the rational soul, and the nature of truth and of the chief 
good to consist; but in this division I miserably imagined 
there to be some unknown substance of irrational life, and 
the nature of the chief evil, which should not only be a sub- 
stance, but real life also, and yet not derived from Thee, 
O my God, of whom are all things. And yet that first I 
called a Monad, as it had been a soul without sex; but the 
latter a Duad ;— anger, in deeds of violence, and in flagitious- 
ness, lust; not knowing whereof I spake. For I had not 

* Ps. cvi. 4. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 61 

known or learned that neither was evil a substance, nor our 
soul that chief and unchangeable good. 

For as deeds of violence arise, if that emotion of the soul 
be corrupted, whence vehement action springs, stirring itself 
insolently and unrulily ; and lusts, when that affection of the 
soul is ungoverned, whereby carnal pleasures are drunk in, 
so do errors and false opinions defile the conversation, if the 
reasonable soul itself be corrupted; as it was then in me, who 
knew not that it must be enlightened by another light, that it 
may be partaker of truth, seeing itself is not that nature of 
truth. For Thou shall light my candle, Lord my God, Thou 
shall enlighten my darkness:'^ and of Thy fulness have we 
all received, for Thou art the true light that lighteth every 
man that cometh into the world;'" for in Thee there is no 
variableness, neither shadow of change.'' 

But I pressed towards Thee, and was thrust from Thee, 
that I might taste of death: for thoti resistest the proud.'* 
But what prouder, than for me with a strange madness to 
maintain myself to be that by nature which Thou art? For 
whereas I was subject to change (so much being manifest 
to me, my very desire to become wise, being the wish, of 
worse to become better), yet chose I rather to imagine Thee 
subject to change, than myself not to be that which Thou 
art. Therefore I was repelled by Thee, and Thou resistedst 
my vain stiff-neckedness, and I imagined corporeal forms, 
and, myself flesh, I accused flesh; and, a wind that passeth 
away, I returned nol^ to Thee, but I passed on and on to 
things which have no being, neither in Thee, nor in me, nor 
in the body. Neither were they created for me by Thy 
truth, but by my vanity devised out of things corporeal. 
And I was wont to ask Thy faithful little ones, my fellow- 
citizens (from whom, unknown to myself, I stood exiled), 
I was wont, prating and foolishly, to ask them, " Why then 
doth the soul err which God created ? " But I would not 
be asked, "Why then doth God err?" And I maintained 
that Thy unchangeable substance did err upon constraint, 
rather than confess that my changeable substance had gone 
astray voluntarily, and now, in punishment, lay in error. 

"Ps. xviii. 28. «sjohn i. i6, 9. «* JTam. i. 17. 

•* 1 Pet. V. s; Jam. iv. 6. "^ Ps. Ixxviii. 39. 



62 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

I was then some six or seven and twenty years old when 
I wrote those volumes; revolving within me corporeal fic- 
tions, buzzing in the ears of my heart, which I turned, O 
sweet truth, to thy inward melody, meditating on the " fair 
and fit," and longing to stand and hearken to Thee, and 
to rejoice greatly at the Bridegroom's voiced but could not; 
for by the voices of mine own errors, I was hurried abroad, 
and through the weight of my own pride, I was sinking into 
the lowest pit. For Thou didst not make me to hear joy and 
gladness, nor did the hones exult which were not yet 
humbled!" 

And what did it profit me, that scarce twenty years old, 
a book of Aristotle, which they call the ten Predicaments, 
falling into my hands (on whose very name I hung, as on 
something great and divine, so often as my rhetoric master 
of Carthage, and others, accounted learned, mouthed it with 
cheeks bursting with pride), I read and understood it un- 
aided? And on my conferring with others, who said that 
they scarcely understood it with very able tutors, not only 
orally explaining it, but drawing many things in sand, they 
could tell me no more of it than I had learned, reading it 
by myself. And the book appeared to me to speak very 
clearly of substances, such as " man," and of their qualities, 
as the figure of a man, of what sort it is ; and stature, how 
many feet high; and his relationship, whose brother he is; 
or where placed; or when born; or whether he stands or 
sits; or be shod or armed; or does, or suffers anything; and 
all the innumerable things which might be ranged under 
these nine Predicaments, of which I have given some 
specimens, or under that chief Predicament of Substance. 

What did all this further me, seeing it even hindered 
me? when, imagining whatever was, was comprehended 
under those ten Predicaments, I essayed in such wise to 
understand, O my God, Thy wonderful and unchangeable 
Unity also, as if Thou also hadst been subjected to Thine 
own greatness or beauty; so that (as in bodies) they should 
exist in Thee, as their subject: whereas Thou Thyself art 
Thy greatness and beauty; but a body is not great or fair 
in that it is a body, seeing that, though it were less great or 

»• John iii. 29. " Ps. li. 8. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 63 

fair, it should notwithstanding be a body. But it was false- 
hood which of Thee I conceived, not truth, fictions of my 
misery, not the realities of Thy Blessedness. For Thou hadst 
commanded, and it was done in me, that the earth should 
bring forth briars and thorns to me, and that in the sweat 
of my brows I should eat my bread. 

And what did it profit me, that all the books I could pro- 
cure of the so-called liberal arts, I, the vile slave of vile 
affections, read by myself, and understood? And I de- 
lighted in them, but knew not whence came all, that herein 
was true or certain. For I had my back to the light, and 
my face to the things enlightened; whence my face, with 
which I discerned the things enlightened, itself was not en- 
lightened. Whatever was written, either on rhetoric, or 
logic, geometry, music, and arithmetic, by myself without 
much difficulty or any instructor, I understood, Thou 
knowest, O Lord my God; because both quickness of un- 
derstanding, and acuteness in discerning, is Thy gift: yet 
did I not thence sacrifice to Thee. So then it served not 
to my use, but rather to my perdition, since I went about to 
get so good a portion of my substance into my own keeping; 
and I kept not my strength for Thee, but wandered from 
Thee into a far country, to spend it upon harlotries!^ For 
what profited me good abilities, not employed to good uses? 
For I felt not that those arts were attained with great diffi- 
culty, even by the studious and talented, until I attempted 
to explain them to such; when he most excelled in them 
who followed me not altogether slowly. 

But what did this further me, imagining that Thou, O 
Lord God, the Truth, wert a vast and bright body, and I 
a fragment of that body ? Perverseness too great ! But 
such was L Nor do I blush, O my God, to confess to Thee 
Thy mercies towards me, and to call upon Thee, who blushed 
not then to profess to men my blasphemies, and to bark 
against Thee. What profited me then my nimble wit in 
those sciences and all those most knotty volumes, unravelled 
by me, without aid from human instruction; seeing I erred 
so foully, and with such sacrilegious shamefulness, in the 
doctrine of piety? Or what hindrance was a far slower wit 

" Liike XV.; Ps. IviiL lo. — ^Vulg. 



64 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

to Thy little ones, since they departed not far from Thee, 
that in the nest of Thy Church they might securely be 
fledged, and nourish the wings of charity, by the food of a 
sound faith. O Lord our God, under the shadow of Thy 
wings let us hope; protect us, and carry us. Thou wilt 
carry us both when little, and even to hoar hairs wilt Thou 
carry us;^ for our firmness, when it is Thou, then is it firm- 
ness; but when our own, it is infirmity. Our good ever 
lives with Thee; from which when we turn away, we 
are turned aside. Let us now, O Lord, return, that 
we may not be overturned, because with Thee our good 
lives without any decay, which good art Thou; nor 
need we fear, lest there be no place whither to return, 
because we fell from it: for through our absence, our man- 
sion fell not — Thy eternity. 

»»Is. xlvi. 4. 



t 



THE FIFTH BOOK 

St. Augustine's twenty-ninth year. Faustus, a snare of Satan to 
many, made an instrument of deliverance to St. Augustine, by 
showing the ignorance of the Manichees on those things wherein 
they professed to have divine knowledge. Augustine gives up all 
thought of going further among the Manichees : is guided to 
Rome and Milan, where he hears St. Ambrose, leaves the Mani- 
chees, and becomes again a Catechumen in the Church Catholic 

A CCEPT the sacrifice of my confessions from the min- 
i\ istry of my tongue, which Thou hast formed and 
-*--*- stirred up to confess unto Thy name. Heal Thou 
all my bones, and let them say, O Lord, who is like unto 
Theef For he who confesses to Thee doth not teach Thee 
what takes place within him; seeing a closed heart closes 
not out Thy eye, nor can man's hard-heartedness thrust back 
Thy hand: for Thou dissolvest it at Thy will in pity or in 
vengeance, and nothing can hide itself from Thy heat? But 
let my soul praise Thee, that it may love Thee; and let it 
confess Thy own mercies to Thee, that it may praise Thee. 
Thy whole creation ceaseth not, nor is silent in Thy praises ; 
neither the spirit of man with voice directed unto Thee, 
nor creation animate or inanimate, by the voice of those 
who meditate thereon: that so our souls may from their 
weariness arise towards Thee, leaning on those things which 
Thou hast created, and passing on to Thyself, who madest 
them wonderfully; and there is refreshment and true 
strength. 

Let the restless, the godless, depart and flee from Thee; 
yet Thou seest them, and dividest the darkness. And be- 
hold, the universe with them is fair, though they are foul. 
And how have they injured Thee? or how have they dis- 
graced Thy government, which, from the heaven to this 

* Ps. XXXV. 20. * Ps. xix. 6. 

3— Hc vu 65 



h. 



66 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

lowest earth, is just and perfect? For whither fled they, 
when they fled from Thy presence?* or where dost not 
Thou find them ? But they fled, that they might not see Thee 
seeing them, and, blinded, might stumble against Thee* (be- 
cause Thou forsakest nothing Thou hast made^) ; that the 
unjust, I say, might stumble upon Thee, and justly be hurt; 
withdrawing themselves from thy gentleness, and stumbling 
at Thy uprightness, and falling upon their own ruggedness. 
Ignorant, in truth, that Thou art every where, Whom no 
place encompasseth ! and Thou alone art near, even to those 
that remove far from Thee!' Let them then be turned, and 
seek Thee ; because not as they have forsaken their Creator, 
hast Thou forsaken Thy creation. Let them be turned and 
seek Thee ; and behold. Thou art there in their heart, in the 
heart of those that confess to Thee, and cast themselves upon 
Thee, and weep in Thy bosom, after all their rugged ways. 
Then dost Thou gently wipe away their tears, and they 
weep the more, and joy in weeping; even for that Thou, 
Lord, — not man of flesh and blood, but — Thou, Lord, who 
madest them, re-makest and comfortest them. But where 
was I, when I was seeking Thee? And Thou wert before 
me, but I had gone away from Thee ; nor did I find myself, 
how much less Thee ! 

I would lay open before my God that nine-and-twentieth 
year of mine age. There had then come to Carthage a cer- 
tain Bishop of the Manichees, Faustus by name, a great snare 
of the Devil, and many were entangled by him through that 
lure of his smooth language : which though I did commend, 
yet could I separate from the truth of the things which I 
was earnest to learn: nor do I so much regard the service 
of oratory as the science which this Faustus, so praised 
among them, set before me to feed upon. Fame had before 
bespoken him most knowing in all valuable learning, and 
exquisitely skilled in the liberal sciences. And since I had 
read and well remembered much of the philosophers, I com- 
pared some things of theirs with those long fables of the 
Manichees, and found the former the more probable; even 
although they could only prevail so far as to make judgment 
of this lower world, the Lord of it they could by no means 

» Ps. cxxxix. 7. * Gen. xvl. 14. ^ Wisd. xi. 25, old vers. » Ps. Ixxiii. 27. 



r 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 67 



Und out? For Thou art great, O Lord, and hast respect 
unto the humble, but the proud Thou beholdest afar off.* 
Nor dost thou drazu near, but to the contrite in heart," nor 
art found by the proud, no, not though by curious skill they 
could number the stars and the sand, and measure the 
starry heavens, and track the courses of the planets. 

For with their understanding and wit, which Thou be- 
stowedst on them, they search out these things; an d much 
have they fou nd mvt - and foretold, many years beforeT 
e cHpses of those lum inaries, the sun and mo on , — wnat day 
and hourpand how m ^nY <;\\fr\t'i^ — nnr AiA \^e\r calciilaiion 
fail: and it came"to^ass as they foretold; and they wrote 
(fown t he rules they had Tound ou t, and these ar e^ read at 
t 1Tis~(5ay, an d out of them do others foretell irPwhat year 
and montTT-Sf rhe-ySSf, &nd what dny nt^ the month, ana^ 
what hour ot the day, an- j w^t^^- p^ft nf i7<; lig^ht, moon or. 
su g is to be eclipsed, and so it shall be, as it is foreshowed. 
At these things men, that know not this art, marvel and 
are astonished, and thpytlj^f Vnnw \t p^ult ^ and are puffed .. 
up; and by an ungoaly pride departing from Thef ^ ^"^ 
laihn^ of Thy light, the v foresee a faj lnf "^ *^'' °""'° ^'5^^i 
which shall b e, so long before, but see not their pwn^which 
is. For they search not religiousTy^wKehce they have tHe 
wit, wherewith they search out this. And finding that Thou 
madest them, they give not themselves up to Thee, to pre- 
serve what Thou madest, nor sacrifice to Thee what they 
have made themselves ; nor slay their own soaring imagina- 
tions, as fowls of the air, nor their own diving curiosities 
(wherewith, like the fishes of the sea^' they wander over 
the unknown paths of the abyss), nor their own luxurious- 
ness, as beasts of the field, that Thou, Lord, a consuming 
fire,^^ mayest burn up those dead cares of theirs, and re- 
create themselves immortally. 

But they knew not the way. Thy Word," by Whom Thou 
madest these things which they number, and themselves 
who number, and the sense whereby they perceive what they 
number, and the understanding, out of which they number; 
or that of Thy wisdom there is no number^ But the Only 

'Wisd. xiii. o. « Ps. cxxxviii. 6. » Ps. xxxiv. i8. i° Ps. viii. 7, 8. 
"Deut. iv. 24. 12 John £. 3. ups. cxlvii. 5. 



68 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Begotten is Himself made unto us wisdom, and righteouS' 
ness, and sanctiiication,^* and was numbered among us, and 
paid tribute unto Ccesar" They knew not this Way whereby 
to descend to Him from themselves, and by Him ascend 
unto Him. They knew not this way, and deemed themselves 
exalted amongst the stars and shining; and behold, they fell 
upon the earth, and their foolish heart was darkened.^* They 
discourse many things truly concerning the creature; but 
Truth, Artificer of the creature, they seek not piously, and 
therefore find him not; or if they find him, knowing Him to 
be God, they glorify Him not as God, neither are thankful, 
but become vain in their imaginations, and profess them- 
selves to be wise," attributing to themselves what is Thine; 
and thereby with most perverse blindness, study to impute 
to Thee what is their own, forging lies of Thee who art 
the Truth, and changing the glory of the uncorruptible God 
into an image made like corruptible man, and to birds, and 
four-footed beasts, and creeping things, changing Thy truth 
into a lie, and worshipping and serving the creature more 
than the Creator?* 

Yet many truths concerning the creature retained I from 
these men, and saw the reason thereof from calculations, 
the succession of times, and the visible testimonies of the 
stars; and compared them with the saying of Manichaeus, 
which in his frenzy he had written most largely on these 
subjects; but discovered not any account of the solstices, or 
equinoxes, or the eclipses of the greater lights, nor what- 
ever of this sort I had learned in the books of secular phi- 
losophy. But I was commanded to believe; and yet it 
corresponded not with what had been established by calcu- 
lations and my own sight, but was quite contrary. 

Doth then, O Lord God of truth, whoso knoweth these 
things, therefore please Thee? Surely unhappy is he who 
knoweth all these, and knoweth not Thee : but happy whoso 
knoweth Thee, though he know not these. And whoso 
knoweth both Thee and them is not the happier for them, 
but for Thee only, if, knowing Thee, he glorifies Thee as 
Cod, and is thankful, and becomes not vain in his imagina- 

"i Cor. i. 30. "Matt. xvii. 27. *• Is. xiv. 13; Rev. xii. 4; Rom. i. 21. 
wRom. i. 21. "Rom. 1. 23- 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 69 

tions.^ For as he is better off who knows how to possess 
a tree, and return thanks to Thee for the use thereof, al- 
though he know not how many cubits high it is, or how wide 
it spreads, than he that can measure it, and count all its 
boughs, and neither owns it, nor knows or loves its Creator: 
so a believer, whose all this world of wealth is, and who 
having nothing, yet possesseth all things^ by cleaving unto 
Thee, whom all things serve, though he know not even the 
circles of the Great Bear, yet is it folly to doubt but he is 
in a better state than one who can measure the heavens, and 
number the stars, and poise the elements, yet neglecteth Thee 
who hast made all things in number, weight, and measured 

But yet who bade that Manichaeus write on these things 
also, skill in which was no element of piety? For Thou hast 
said to man, Behold piety and wisdom;'^ of which he might 
be ignorant, though he had perfect knowledge of these 
things; but these things, since, knowing not, he most im- 
pudently dared to teach, he plainly could have no knowledge 
of piety. For it is vanity to make profession of these 
worldly things even when known; but confession to Thee 
is piety. Wherefore this wanderer to this end spake much 
of these things, that convicted by those who had truly learned 
them, it might be manifest what understanding he had in 
the other abstruser things. For he would not have himself 
meanly thought of, but went about to persuade men, " That 
the Holy Ghost, the Comforter and Enricher of Thy faithful 
ones, was with plenary authority personally within him." 
When then he was found out to have taught falsely of the 
heaven and stars, and of the motions of the sun and moon 
(although these things pertain not to the doctrine of religion), 
yet his sacrilegious presumption would become evident 
enough, seeing he delivered things which not only he knew 
not, but which were falsified, with so mad a vanity of pride, 
that he sought to ascribe them to himself, as to a divine 
person. 

For when I hear any Christian brother ignorant of these 
things, and mistaken on them, I can patiently behold such 
a man holding his opinion; nor do I see that any ignorance 
as to the position or character of the corporeal creation 

" Rom. i. 21. » 2 Cor. vi. lo. ^ Wisd. xi. 20. « Job. xxviii. 28. LXX. 



70 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

can injure him, so long as he doth not believe any thing 
unworthy of Thee, O Lord, the Creator of all. But it doth 
injure him, if he imagine it to pertain to the form of the 
doctrine of piety, and will yet affirm that too stiffly whereof 
he is ignorant. And yet is even such an infirmity, in the in- 
fancy of faith, borne by our mother Charity, till the new- 
born may grow up unto a perfect man, so as not to he 
carried about with every wind of doctrine!^ But in him 
who in such wise presumed to be the teacher, source, guide, 
chief of all whom he could so persuade, that whoso followed 
him thought that he followed, not a mere man, but Thy 
Holy Spirit; who would not judge that so great madness, 
when once convicted of having taught any thing false, were 
to be detested and utterly rejected? But I had not as yet 
clearly ascertained whether the vicissitudes of longer and 
shorter days and nights, and of day and night itself, with 
the eclipses of the greater lights, and whatever else of the 
kind I had read of in other books, might be explained con- 
sistently with his sayings; so that, if they by any means 
might, it should remain a question to me whether it were 
so or no; but I might, on account of his reputed sanctity, 
rest my credence upon his authority. 

And for almost all those nine years, wherein with unsettled 
mind I had been their disciple, I had longed but too intensely 
for the coming of this Faustus. For the rest of the sect, 
whom by chance I had lighted upon, when unable to solve 
my objections about these things, still held out to me the 
coming of this Faustus, by conference with whom these 
and greater difficulties, if I had them, were to be most 
readily and abundantly cleared. When then he came, I 
found him a man of pleasing discourse, and who could 
speak fluently and in better terms, yet still but the self-same 
things which they were wont to say. But what availed 
the utmost neatness of the cup-bearer to my thirst for a 
more precious draught? Mine ears were already cloyed 
with the like, nor did they seem to me therefore better, 
because better said; or therefore true, because eloquent; 
nor the soul therefore wise, because the face was comely, 
and the language graceful. But they who held him out to 

** £ph. iv. 13, 14. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 71 

me were no good judges of things; and therefore to them 
he appeared understanding and wise, because in words pleas- 
ing. I felt however that another sort of people were 
suspicious even of truth, and refused to assent to it, if 
delivered in a smooth and copious discourse. But Thou, 

my God, hadst already taught me by wonderful and secret 
ways, and therefore I believe that Thou taughtest me, be- 
cause it is truth, nor is there besides Thee any teacher of 
truth, where or whencesoever it may shine upon us. Of 
Thyself therefore had I now learned, that neither ought any 
thing to seem to be spoken truly, because eloquently; nor 
therefore falsely, because the utterance of the lips is in- 
harmonious; nor, again, therefore true, because rudely de- 
livered; or therefore false, because the language is rich; 
but that wisdom and folly are as wholesome and unwhole- 
some food ; and adorned or unadorned phrases as courtly or 
country vessels; either kind of meats may be served up in 
either kind of dishes. 

That greediness then, wherewith I had of so long time 
expected that man, was delighted verily with his action and 
feeling when disputing, and his choice and readiness of 
words to clothe his ideas. I was then delighted, and, with 
many others and more than they, did I praise and extol him. 
It troubled me, however, that in the assembly of his auditors, 

1 was not allowed to put in and communicate those questions 
that troubled me, in familiar converse with him. Which 
when I might, and with my friends began to engage his 
ears at such times as it was not unbecoming for him to 
discuss with me, and had brought forward such things as 
moved me ; I found him first utterly ignorant of liberal sci- 
ences, save grammar, and that but in an ordinary way. But 
because he had read some of Tully's Orations, a very few 
books of Seneca, some things of the poets, and such few vol- 
umes of his own sect as were written in Latin and neatly, 
and was daily practised in speaking, he acquired a certain 
eloquence, which proved the more pleasing and seductive, be-, 
cause under the guidance of a good wit, and with a kind of 
natural gracefulness. Is it not thus, as I recall it, O Lord 
my God, Thou Judge of my conscience? before Thee is my 
heart, and my remembrance. Who didst at that time direct 



72 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

me by the hidden mystery of Thy providence, and didst set 
those shameful errors of mine before my face, that I might 
see and hate them.** 

For after it was clear that he was ignorant of those arts 
in which I thought he excelled, I began to despair of his 
opening and solving the difficulties which perplexed me (of 
which indeed however ignorant, he might have held the 
truths of piety, had he not been a Manichee). For their 
books are fraught with prolix fables, of the heaven, 
and stars, sun, and moon, and I now no longer thought him 
able satisfactorily to decide what I much desired, whether, 
on comparison of these things with the calculations I had 
elsewhere read, the account given in the books of Manichaeus 
were preferable, or at least as good. Which when I pro- 
posed to be considered and discussed, he, so far modestly, 
shrunk from the burthen. For he knew that he knew not 
these things, and was not ashamed to confess it. For he 
was not one of those talking persons, many of whom I had 
endured, who undertook to teach me these things, and said 
nothing. But this man had a heart, though not right 
towards Thee, yet neither altogether treacherous to himself. 
For he was not altogether ignorant of his own ignorance, nor 
would he rashly be entangled in a dispute, whence he could 
neither retreat nor extricate himself fairly. Even for this 
I liked him the better. For fairer is the modesty of a candid 
mind, than the knowledge of those things which I desired; 
and such I found him, in all the more difficult and subtile 
questions. 

My zeal for the writings of Manichaeus being thus blunted, 
and despairing yet more of their other teachers, seeing that 
in divers things which perplexed me, he, so renowned among 
them, had so turned out ; I began to engage with him in the 
study of that literature, on which he also was much set (and 
which as rhetoric-reader I was at that time teaching young 
students at Carthage), and to read with him, either what him- 
self desired to hear, or such as I judged fit for his genius. 
But all my efforts whereby I had purposed to advance in 
that sect, upon knowledge of that man, came utterly to an 
end; not that I detached myself from them altogether, but 

»*PS. 1. 21. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 73 

as one finding nothing better, I had settled to be content 
meanwhile with what I had in whatever way fallen upon, 
unless by chance something more eligible should dawn upon 
me. Thus that Faustus, to so many a snare of death, had 
now, neither willing nor witting it, begun to Toosen that 
wherein I was taken. For Thy hands, O my God, in the 
secret purpose of Thy providence, did not forsake my soul ; 
and out of my mother's heart's blood, through her tears night 
and day poured out, was a sacrifice offered for me unto Thee ; 
and Thou didst deal with me by wondrous ways.^* Thou 
didst it, O my God: for the steps of a man are ordered by 
the Lord, and He shall dispose his way." Or how shall we 
obtain salvation, but from Thy hand, re-making what it 
made ? 

Thou didst deal with me, that I should be persuaded to 
go to Rome, and to teach there rather, what I was teaching 
at Carthage. And how I was persuaded to this, I will not 
neglect to confess to Thee : because herein also the deepest re- 
cesses of Thy wisdom, an3 Thy most present mercy to us, must 
be considered and confessed. I did not wish therefore to go 
to Rome, because higher gains and higher dignities were 
warranted me by my friends who persuaded me to this 
(though even these things had at that time an influence over 
my mind), but my chief and almost only reason was, that 
I heard that young men studied there more peacefully, and) 
were kept quiet under a restraint of more regular discipline;! 
so that they did not, at their pleasures, petulantly rush into 
the school of one whose pupils they were not, nor were 
even admitted without his permission. Whereas at Carthage 
there reigns among the scholars a most disgraceful and un- 
ruly licence. They burst in audaciously, and with gestures 
almost frantic, disturb all order which any one hath estab- 
lished for the good of his scholars. Divers outrages they 
.commit, with a wonderful stolidity, punishable by law, did 
did not custom uphold them; that custom evincing them to 
be the more miserable, in that they now do as lawful what 
by Thy eternal law shall never be lawful ; and they think 
they do it unpunished, whereas they are punished with the 
very blindness whereby they do it, and suffer incomparably 

** Joel. ii. 26. * Ps. xxxvii. 23. 



74 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

worse than what they do. The manners then which, when 
a student, I would not make my own, I was fain as a teacher 
to endure in others: and so I was well pleased to go where, 
all that knew it, assured me that the like was not done. But 
Thou, my refuge and my portion in the land of the living;'" 
that I might change my earthly dwelling for the salvation of 
my soul, at Carthage didst goad me, that I might thereby be 
torn from it; and at Rome didst proffer me allurements, 
whereby I might be drawn thither, by men in love with a 
dying life, the one doing frantic, the other promising vain, 
things; and, to correct my steps, didst secretly use their 
and my own perverseness. For both they who disturbed 
my quiet were blinded with a disgraceful frenzy, and they 
who invited me elsewhere savoured of earth. And I, who 

»- here detested real misery, was there seeking unreal happiness. 
But why I went hence, and went thither. Thou knewest, 
O God, yet showedst it neither to me, nor to my mother, 
who grievously bewailed my journey, and followed me as 
far as the sea. But I deceived her, holding me by force, 
that either she might keep me back or go with me, and I 
feigned that I had a friend whom I could not leave, till he 
had a fair wind to sail. And I lied to my mother, and such 
a mother, and escaped: for this also hast Thou mercifully 
forgiven me, preserving me, thus full of execrable defile- 
ments, from the waters of the sea, for the water of Thy 
Grace; whereby when I was cleansed, the streams of my 
mother's eyes should be dried, with which for me she daily 
watered the ground under her face. And yet refusing to 
return without me, I scarcely persuaded her to stay that night 
in a place hard by our ship, where was an Oratory in memory 
of the blessed Cyprian. That night I privily departed, but 
she was not behind in weeping and prayer. And what, O 
Lord, was she with so many tears asking of Thee, but that 
Thou wouldst not suffer, me to sail? But Thou, in the 
depth of Thy counsels and hearing the main point of her 
desire, regardedst not what she then asked, that Thou 

"A mightest make me what she ever asked. The wind blew 
and swelled our sails, and withdrew the shore from our sight ; 
and she on the morrow was there, frantic with sorrow, and 
" Ps. cxlii. s. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 75 

with complaints and groans filled Thine ears, who didst then 
disregard them ; whilst through my desires, Thou wert hurry- 
ing me to end all desire, and the earthly part of her affection 
to me was chastened by the allotted scourge of sorrows. For 
she loved my being with her, as mothers do, but much more 
than many; and she knew not how great joy Thou wert about 
to work for her out of my absence. She knew not ; there- 
fore did she weep and wail, and by this agony there appeared 
in her the inheritance of Eve, with sorrow seeking what in 
sorrow she had brought forth. And yet, after accusing my 
treachery and hardheartedness, she betook herself again to 
intercede to Thee for me, went to her wonted place, and 
I to Rome. 

And lo, there was I received by the scourge of bodily 
sickness, and I was going down to hell, carrying all the sins 
which I had committed, both against Thee, and myself, and 
others, many and grievous, over and above that bond of 
original sin, whereby we all die in Adam.^ For Thou hadst 
not forgiven me any of these things in Christ, nor had He 
abolished by His cross the enmity which by my sins I had 
incurred with Thee. For how should He, by the crucifixion 
of a phantasm, which I believed Him to be? So true, then, 
was the death of my soul, as that of His flesh seemed to 
me false; and how true the death of His body, so false was 
the life of my soul, which did not believe it. And now the 
fever heightening, I was parting and departing for ever. For 
had I then parted hence, whither had I departed, but into 
fire and torments, such as my misdeeds deserved in the truth 
of Thy appointment ? And this she knew not, yet in absence 
prayed for me. But Thou, everywhere present, heardest 
her where she was, and, where I was, hadst compassion upon 
me; that I should recover the health of my body, though 
frenzied as yet in my sacrilegious heart. For I did not 
in all that danger desire Thy baptism; and I was better as 
a boy, when I begged it of my mother's piety, as I have 
before recited and confessed. But I had grown up to my 
own shame, and I madly scoffed at the prescripts of Thy 
medicine, who wouldest not suffer me, being such, to die a 
double death. With which wound had my mother's heart 

** I Cor. XV. 22. 



76 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

been pierced, it could never be healed. For I cannot express 
the affection she bare to me, and with how much more vehe- 
ment anguish she was now in labour of me in the spirit, 
than at her childbearing in the flesh * 

I see not then how she should have been healed, had such 
a death of mine stricken through the bowels of her love. 
And where would have been those her so strong and un- 
ceasing prayers, unintermitting to Thee alone ? But wouldest 
Thou, God of mercies, despise the contrite and humbled 
heart*' of that chaste and sober widow, so frequent in alms- 
deeds, so full of duty and service to Thy saints, no day inter- 
mitting the oblation at Thine altar, twice a day, morning 
and evening, without any intermission, coming to Thy church, 
not for idle tattlings and old wives' fables;^ but that she 
might hear Thee in Thy discourses, and Thou her in her 
prayers. Couldest Thou despise and reject from Thy aid 

x/*«)the tears of such an one, wherewith she begged of Thee not 
gold or silver, nor mutable or passing good, but the salvation 
of her son's soul ? Thou, by whose gift she was such ? 
Never, Lord. Yea, Thou wert at hand, and wert hearing 

- and doing, in that order wherein Thou hadst determined 
before that it should be done. Far be it that Thou shouldest 
deceive her in Thy visions and answers, some whereof I 
have, some I have not mentioned, which she laid up in her 
faithful heart, and ever praying urged upon Thee, as Thine 
own handwriting. For Thou, because Thy mercy endureth 
for ever, vouchsafest to those to whom Thou forgivest all 
their debts, to become also a debtor by Thy promises. 

Thou recoveredst me then of that sickness, and healedst 
the son of Thy handmaid, for the time in body, that he might 
live, for Thee to bestow upon him a better and more abiding 
health. And even then, at Rome, I joined myself to those 
deceiving and deceived " holy ones " ; not with their disciples 
only (of which number was he, in whose house I had fallen 
sick and recovered); but also with those whom they call 
" The Elect." For I still thought " that it was not we that 
sin. but that I know not what other nature sinned in us"; 
>and it delighted my pride, to be free from blame; and when 
I had done any evil, not to confess I had done any, that Thou 
»Gal. iv. 9. "Ps. li. 17. " i Tim. v. 10. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 11 

mightest heal my soul because it had sinned against Thee:" 
but I loved to excuse it^ and to accuse I know not what other 
thing, which was with me, but which I was not. But in 
truth it was wholly I, and mine impiety had divided me - 
against myself: and that sin was the more incurable, where- 
by I did not judge myself a sinner; and execrable iniquity 
it was, that I had rather have Thee, Thee, O God Almighty, 
to be overcome in me to my destruction, than myself of Thee 
to salvation. Not as yet then hadst Thou set a watch before 
my mouth, and a door of safe keeping around my lips, thai 
my heart might not turn aside to wicked speeches, to make 
excuses of sins, with men that work iniquity: and, therefore, 
was I still united with their Electa 

But now despairing to make proficiency in that false doc- 
trine, even those (with which if I should find no better, I had 
resolved to rest contented) I now held more laxly and care- 
lessly. For there half arose a thought in me that those 
philosophers, whom they call Academics, were wiser than 
the rest, for that they held men ought to doubt everything, 
and laid down that no truth can be comprehended by man: 
for so, not then understanding even their meaning, I also 
was clearly convinced that they thought, as they are com- 
monly reported. Yet did I freely and openly discourage that 
host of mine from that over-confidence which I perceived 
him to have in those fables, which the books of Manichaeus 
are full of. Yet I lived in more familiar friendship with 
them, than with others who were not of this heresy. Nor 
did I maintain it with my ancient eagerness ; still my intimacy 
with that sect (Rome secretly harbouring many of them) 
made me slower to seek any other way: especially since I 
despaired of finding the truth, from which they had turned 
me aside, in Thy Church, O Lord of heaven and earth. 
Creator of all things visible and invisible: and it seemed to 
me unseemly to believe Thee to have the shape of human 
flesh, and to be bounded by the bodily lineaments of our mem- 
bers. And because, when I wished to think on my God, I 
knew not what to think of, but a mass of bodies (for what 
was not such did not seem to me to be any thing), this was p 
the greatest, and almost only cause of my inevitable error. I 

M Ps. xli. 4. *» Ps. cxli. 3, 4. — Vulg. 



78 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

For hence I believed Evil also to be some such kind of 
substance, and to have its own foul and hideous bulk ; whether 
f^ek'*"^^. |nross, which they called earth, or thin and subtile (like the 
^g^y^^^body of the air), which they imagine to be some malignant 
\^Suff^ mind, creeping through that earth. And because a piety, 
such as it was, constrained me to believe that the good God 
never created any evil nature, I conceived two masses, con- ^ 
trary to one another, both unbounded , but the_evil narrower, t.»»* 
the good more expansive. And from this pestilent beginning, 
. the other sacrilegious conceits followed on me. For when my 
mind endeavoured to recur to the Catholic faith, I was driven 
back, since that was not the Catholic faith which I thought 
to be so. And I seemed to myself more reverential, if I 
believed of Thee, my God (to whom Thy mercies confess 
out of my mouth), as unbounded, at least on other sides, 
although on that where the mass of evil was opposed to Thee, 
I was constrained to confess Thee bounded; than if on all 
sides I should imagine Thee to be bounded by the form of 
a human body. And it seemed to me better to believe Thee 
to have created no evil (which to me ignorant seemed not 
some only, but a bodily substance, because I could not con- 
ceive of mind unless as a subtile body, and that diffused in 
definite spaces), than to believe the nature of evil, such as 
I conceived it, could come from Thee. Yea, and our Saviour 
Himself, Thy Only Begotten, I believed to have been reached 
forth (as it were) for our salvation, out of the mass of Thy 
most lucid substance, so as to believe nothing of Him, but 
what I could imagine in my vanity. His Nature then, being 
such, I thought could not be born of the Virgin Mary, with- 
out being mingled with the flesh: and how that which I had 
so figured to myself could be mingled, and not defiled, I 
saw not. I feared therefore to believe Him born in the 
flesh, lest I should be forced to believe Him defiled by the 
flesh. Now will Thy spiritual ones mildly and lovingly 
smile upon me, if they shall read these my confessions. 
Yet such was I. 

Furthermore, what the Manichees had criticised in Thy 
Scriptures, I thought could not be defended; yet at times 
verily I had a wish to confer upon these several points with 
some one very well skilled in those books, and to make trial 



k 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 79 

what he thought thereon: for the words of one Helpidius, 
as he spoke and disputed face to face against the said Mani- 
chees, had begun to stir me even at Carthage : in that he had 
produced things out of the Scriptures, not easily withstood, 
the .Manichees' answer whereto seemed to me weak. And 
this answer they liked not to give publicly, but only to us 
in private. It was, that the Scriptures of the New Testa- 
ment had been corrupted by I know not whom, who wished 
to engrafif the law of the Jews upon the Christian faith: 
yet themselves produced not any uncorrupted copies. But 
I, conceiving of things corporeal only, was mainly held down, 
vehemently oppressed and in a manner suffocated by those 
" masses " ; panting under which after the breath of Thy 
truth, I could not breathe it pure and untainted. 

I began then diligently to practise that for which I came 
to Rome, to teach rhetoric; and first, to gather some to my 
house, to whom, and through whom, I had begun to be 
known; when lo, I found other offences committed in Rome, 
to which I was not exposed in Africa. True, those " sub- 
vertings " by profligate young men were not here practised, 
as was told me: but on a sudden, said they, to avoid paying 
their master's stipend, a number of youths plot together, and 
remove to another; — breakers of faith, who for love of l( 
money hold justice cheap. These also my heart hated, 
though not with a perfect hatred:^ for perchance I hated 
them more because I was to suffer by them, than because 
they did things utterly unlawful. Of a truth such are base 
persons, and they go a whoring from Thee, loving these 
fleeting mockeries of things temporal, and filthy lucre, which 
fouls the hand that grasps it; hugging the fleeting world, 
and despising Thee, who abidest, and recallest, and forgivest 
the adulteress soul of man, when she returns to Thee. And 
now I hate such depraved and crooked persons, though I 
love them if corrigible, so as to prefer to money the learning 
which they acquire, and to learning, Thee, O God, the truth 
and fulness of assured good, and most pure peace. But then 
I rather for my own sake misliked them evil, than liked and 
wished them good for Thine. 

When therefore they of Milan had sent to Rome to the 

•* Ps. CXXXix, 22. 



80 THE CONFESSIONS OF SI. AUGUSTINE 

prefect of the city, to furnish them with a rhetoric reader 
for their city, and send him at the pubHc expense, I made 
application (through those very persons, intoxicated with 
Manichaean vanities, to be freed wherefrom I was to go, 
neither of us however knowing it) that Symmachus, then 
prefect of the city, would try me by setting me some subject, 
and so send me. To Milan I came, to Ambrose the Bishop, ji^ 
known to the whole world as among the best of men, Thy 
devout servant; whose eloquent discourse did then plenti- 
fully dispense unto Thy people the flour of Thy wheat, the 
gladness of Thy oil, and the sobe r inebriation of Th^^ine.'" 
To him was I unknowing led by Thee, that by him I might 
knowingly be led to Thee. That man of God received me as 
a father, and showed me an Episcopal kindness on my com- 
ing. Thenceforth I began to love him, at first indeed not — 
as a teacher of the truth (which I utterly despaired of in 
Thy Church), but as a person kind towards myself. And I "" 
listened diligently to him preaching to the people, not with 
that intent I ought, but, as it were, trying his eloquence, 
whether it answered the fame thereof, or flowed fuller or 
lower than was reported; and I hung on his words at- 
tentively; but of the matter I was as a careless and scorn- 
ful looker-on; and I was delighted with the sweetness of 
his discourse, more recondite, yet in manner less winning and 
harmonious, than that of Faustus. Of the matter, however, 
there was no comparison ; for the one was wandering amid 
Manichaean delusions, the other teaching salvation most 
soundly. But salvation is far from sinners,^ such as I then 
stood before him ; and as yet was I drawing nearer by little 
and little, and unconsciously. 

For though I took no pains to learn what he spake, but 
only to hear how he spake (for that empty care alone was 
left me, despairing of a way, open for man, to Thee), yet 
together with the words which I would choose, came also 
into my mind the things which I would refuse; for I could 
not separate them. And while I opened my heart to admit 
" how eloquently he spake," there also entered " how truly 
he spake ; " but this by degrees. For first, these things also 
had now begun to appear to me capable of defence; and the 

•"Ps. iv. 7; dv. 15. *Ps. cxuc. 155. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 81 

Catholic faith, for which I had thought nothing could be 
said against the Manichees' objections, I now thought might 
be maintained without shamelessness; especially after I had 
heard one or two places of the Old Testament resolved, and 
ofttimes " in a figure,'"" which when I understood literally, 
I was slain spiritually. Very many places then of those 
books having been explained, I now blamed my despair, in 
believing that no answer could be given to such as hated 
and scoffed at the Law and the Prophets. Yet did I not 
therefore then see that the Catholic way was to be held, be- 
cause it also could find learned maintainers, who could at 
large and with some show of reason answer objections; nor 
that what I held was therefore to be condemned, because 
both sides could be maintained. For the Catholic cause 
seemed to me in such sort not vanquished, as still not as yet 
to be victorious. 

Hereupon I earnestly bent my mind, to see if in any way 
I could by any certain proof convict the Manichees of false- 
hood. Could I once have conceived a spiritual substance, 
all their strongholds had been beaten down, and cast utterly 
out of my mind ; but I could not. Notwithstanding, concern- 
ing the frame of this world, and the whole of nature, which 
the senses of the flesh can reach to, as I more and more con- 
sidered and compared things, I judged the tenets of most of 
the philosophers to have been much more probable. So then 
after the manner of the Academics (as they are supposed) 
doubting of everything, and wavering between all, I settled 
so far, that the Manichees were to be abandoned; judging 
that, even while doubting, I might not continue in that sect, 
to which I already preferred some of the philosophers; to 
which philosophers notwithstanding, for that they were with- 
out the saving Name of Christ, I utterly refused to commit 
the cure of my sick soul. I determined therefore so long 
to be a Catechumen in the Catholic Church, to which I had 
been commended by my parents, till something certain should 
dawn upon me, whither I might steer my course. 

" I Cor. xiii. 12; 2 Cor. iii. 6. 



THE SIXTH BOOK 

Arrival of Monnica at Milan ; her obedience to St. Ambrose, and bis 
value for her ; St. Ambrose's habits ; Augustine's gradual aban- 
donment of error ; finds that he has blamed the Church Catholic 
wrongly ; desire of absolute certainty, but struck with the con- 
trary analogy of God's natural Providence ; how shaken in his 
worldly pursuits; God's guidance of his friend Alypius; Augustine 
debates with himself and his friends about their mode of life ; 
his inveterate sins, and dread of judgment 

THOU J my hope from my youth^ where wert Thou 
to me, and whither wert Thou gone? Hadst not 
Thou created me, and separated me from the beasts 
of the field, and fowls of the air? Thou hadst made me 
wiser, yet did I walk in darkness, and in slippery places, 
and sought Thee abroad out of myself, and found not the 
God of my heart; and had come into the depths of the sea, 
and distrusted and despaired of ever finding truth. My 
mother had now come to me, resolute through piety, follow- 
ing me over sea and land, in all perils confiding in Thee. 
For in perils of the sea, she comforted the very mariners 
(by whom passengers unacquainted with the deep, use rather 
to be comforted when troubled), assuring them of a safe 
arrival, because Thou hadst by a vision assured her thereof. 
She found me in grievous peril, through despair of ever 
finding truth. But when I had discovered to her that I was 
now no longer a Manichee, though not yet a Catholic Chris- 
tian, she was not overjoyed, as at something unexpected; 
although she was now assured concerning that part of my 
misery, for which she bewailed me as one dead, though to 
be reawakened by Thee, carrying me forth upon the hier 
of her thoughts, that Thou mightest say to the son of the 
widow, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise; and he should 
revive, and begin to speak, and thou shoiildest deliver him 

1 Ps. Ixxi. 5. 
22 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 83 

to his mother." Her heart then was shaken with no tumul- 
tuous exultation, when she heard that what she daily de- 
sired of Thee was already in so great part realised; in that, 
though I had not yet attained the truth, I was rescued from 
falsehood; but, as being assured, that Thou, who hadst 
promised the whole, wouldest one day give the rest, most 
calmly, and with a heart full of confidence, she replied to 
me, " She believed in Christ, that before she departed this 
life, she should see me a Catholic believer." Thus much to 
me. But to Thee, Fountain of mercies, poured she forth 
more copious prayers and tears, that Thou wouldest hasten 
Thy help, and enlighten my darkness ; and she hastened 
the more eagerly to the Church, and hung upon the lips of 
Ambrose, praying for the fountain of that water, zvhich 
springeth up unto life everlasting.^ But that man she loved 
as an angel of God, because she knew that by him I had 
been brought for the present to that doubtful state of faith 
I now was in, through which she anticipated most confidently 
that I should pass from sickness unto health, after the access, 
as it were, of a sharper fit, which physicians call " the 
crisis." 

When then my mother had once, as she was wont in Afric, 
brought to the Churches built in memory of the Saints, 
certain cakes, and bread and wine, and was forbidden by 
the door-keeper; so soon as she knew that the Bishop had 
forbidden this, she so piously and obediently embraced 
his wishes, that I myself wondered how readily she censured 
her own practice, rather than discuss his prohibition. For 
wine-bibbing did not lay siege to her spirit, nor did love 
of wine provoke her to hatred of the^ruth, as it doth too 
many (both men and w omen )^ jwber revolt at a lesson of 
sobriety, as men well-drunk at adraught mingled with water. 
But she. when she had brought her basket with the accus- 
tomed festival-food, to be but tasted by herself, and then 
given away, never joined therewith more than one small cup 
of wine, diluted according to her own abstemious habits, 
which for courtesy she would taste. And if there were many 
churches of the departed saints that were to be honoured 
in that manner, she still carried round that same one cup, 

* Luke vii. 14, 15. 'John iv. 14. 



84 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

to be used every where; and this, though not only made 
very watery, but unpleasantly heated with carrying about, 
she would distribute to those about her by small sips; for 
she" sought there devotion, not pleasure. So soon, then, as 
she found this custom to be forbidden by that famous 
preacher and most pious prelate, even to those that would 
use it soberly, lest so an occasion of excess might be given 
to the drunken; and for that these, as it were, anniversary 
funeral solemnities did much resemble the superstition of 
the Gentiles, she most willingly forbare it: and for a basket 
filled with fruits of the earth, she had learned to bring 
to the Churches of the martyrs a breast filled with more 
purified petitions, and to give what she could to the poor; 
that so the communication of the Lord's Body might be there 
rightly celebrated, where, after the example of His Passion, 
the martyrs had been sacrificed and crowned. But yet it 
seems to me, O Lord my God, and thus thinks my heart of 
it in Thy sight, that perhaps she would not so readily have 
yielded to the cutting off of this custom, had it been for- 
bidden by another, whom she loved not as Ambrose, whom, 
for my salvation, she loved most entirely; and he her again, 
for her most religious conversation, whereby in good works, 
so fervent in spirit, she was constant at church; so that, 
when he saw me, he often burst forth into her praises; con- 
gratulating me that I had such a mother ; not knowing what 
a son she had in me, who doubted of all these things, and 
imagined the way to life could not be found out. 

Nor did I yet groan in my prayers, that Thou wouldest 
help me; but my spirit was wholly intent on learning, and 
restless to dispute, And Ambrose himself, as the world 
counts happy, I esteemed a happy man, whom personages 
so great held in such honour; only his celibacy seemed to 
me a painful course. But what hope he bore within him, 
what struggles he had against the temptations which beset 
his very excellencies, or what comfort in adversities, and 
what sweet joys Thy Bread had for the hidden mouth of 
his spirit, when chewing the cud thereof. I neither could 
conjecture, nor had experienced. Nor did he know the 
tides of my feelings, or the abyss of my danger. For I 
could not ask of him, what I would as I would, being shut 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 85 

out both from his ear and speech by multitudes of busy- 
people, whose weaknesses he served. With whom when he 
was not taken up (which was but a little time), he was 
either refreshing his body with the sustenance absolutely 
necessary, or his mind with reading. But when he was 
reading, his eye glided over the pages, and his heart searched 
out the sense, but his voice and tongue were at rest. Oft- 
times when we had come (for no man was forbidden to 
enter, nor was it his wont that any who came should be 
announced to him), we saw him thus reading to himself, 
and never otherwise; and having long sat silent (for who 
durst intrude on one so intent?) we were fain to depart, 
conjecturing that in the small interval which he obtained, 
free from the din of others' business, for the recruiting of 
his mind, he was loth to be taken off; and perchance he 
dreaded lest if the author he read should deliver any thing 
obscurely, some attentive or perplexed hearer should desire 
him to expound it, or to discuss some of the harder ques- 
tions; so that his time being thus spent, he could not turn 
over so many volumes as he desired ; although the preserving 
of his voice (which a very little speaking would weaken) 
might be the truer reason for his reading to himself. But 
with what intent soever he did it, certainly in such a man 
it was good. 

I however certainly had no opportunity of enquiring what 
I wished of that so holy oracle of Thine, his breast, unless 
the thing might be answered briefly. But those tides in me, 
to be poured out to him, required his full leisure, and never 
found it. I heard him indeed every Lord's day, rightly ex- 
pounding the Word of truth* among the people; and I was 
more and more convinced that all the knots of those crafty 
calumnies, which those our deceivers had knit against the 
Divine Books, could be unravelled. But when I understood 
withal, that " man, created by Thee after Thine own image," 
was not so understood by Thy spiritual sons, whom of the 
Catholic Mother Thou hast born again through grace as 
though they believed and conceived of Thee as bounded 
by human shape (although what a spiritual substance should 
be I had not even a faint or shadowy notion) ; yet, with 

* 2 Tim. ii. 15. 



I- 



86 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

joy I blushed at having so many years barked not against 
the Catholic faith, but against the fictions of carnal imagi- 
nations. For so rash and impious had I been, that what 
I ought by enquiring to have learned, I had pronounced on, 
condemning. For Thou, Most High, and most near; most 
secret, and most present; Who hast not limbs some larger, 
some smaller, but art wholly every where, and no where in 
space, art not of such corporeal shape, yet hast Thou made 
man after Thine own image; and behold, from head to foot 
is he contained in space. 

Ignorant then how this Thy image should subsist, I should 
have knocked and proposed the doubt, how it was to be 
believed, not insultingly opposed it, as if believed. Doubt, 
then, what to hold for certain, the more sharply gnawed my 
heart, the more ashamed I was, that so long deluded and 
deceived by the promise of certainties, I had with childish 
error and vehemence, prated of so many uncertainties. For 
that they were falsehoods became clear to me later. How- 
ever I was certain that they were uncertain, and that I 
had formerly accounted them certain, when with a blind 
contentiousness, I accused Thy Catholic Church, whom I 
now discovered, not indeed as yet to teach truly, but at least 
not to teach that for which I had grievously censured her. 
So I was confounded, and converted; and I joyed, O my 
God, that the One Only Church, the body of Thine Only 
Son (wherein the name of Christ had been put upon me 
as an infant), had no taste for infantine conceits; nor in 
her sound doctrine maintained any tenet which should 
confine Thee, the Creator of all, in space, however great 
and large, yet bounded every where by the limits of a 
human form. 

I joyed also that the old Scriptures of the law and the 
Prophets were laid before me, not now to be perused with 
that eye to which before they seemed absurd, when I reviled 
Thy holy ones for so thinking, whereas indeed they thought 
not so: and with joy I heard Ambrose in his sermons to 
the people, oftentimes most diligently recommend this text 
-> for a rule. The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth lifef' whilst 
he drew aside the mystic veil, laying open spiritually what, 

^ 2 Cor. iii. 6. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 87 

according to the letter, seemed to teach something unsound; 
teaching herein nothing that offended me, though he taught 
what I knew not as yet, whether it were true. For I kept 
my heart from assenting to any thing, fearing to fall head- 
long; but by hanging in suspense I was the worse killed. 
For I wished to be as assured of the things I saw not, as I 
was that seven and three are ten. For I was not so mad 
as to think that even this could not be comprehended; but 
I desired to have other things as clear as this, whether 
things corporeal, which were not present to my senses, or 
spiritual, whereof I knew not how to conceive, except cor- 
poreally. And by believing might I have been cured, that 
so the eyesight of my soul being cleared, might in some 
way be directed to Thy truth, which abideth always, and in 
no part faileth. But as it happens that one who has tried/' ^ 
a bad physician, fears to trust himself with a good one,v"^ 
so was it with the health of my soul, which could not be 
healed but by believing, and lest it should believe falsehoods, 
refused to be cured; resisting Thy hands, who hast pre- 
pared the medicines of faith, and hast applied them to the 
diseases of the whole world, and given unto them so great 
authority. 

Being led, however, from this to prefer the Catholic doc- 
trine, I felt that her proceeding was more unassuming and 
honest, in that she required to be believed things not dem- 
onstrated (whether it was that they could in themselves 
be demonstrated but not to certain persons, or could not 
at all be), whereas among the Manichees our credulity was 
mocked by a promise of certain knowledge, and then so 
many most fabulous and absurd things were imposed to 
be believed, because they could not be demonstrated. Then 
Thou, O Lord, little by little with most tender and most 
merciful hand, touching and composing my heart, didst 
persuade me — considering what innumerable things I be- 
lieved, which I saw not, nor was present while they were 
done, as so many things in secular history, so many reports 
of places and of cities, which I had not seen; so many 
of friends, so many of physicians, so many continually of 
other men, which unless we should believe, we should do - 
nothing at all in this life; lastly, with how unshaken an 



88 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

assurance I believed of what parents I was born, which 
' I could not know, had I not believed upon hearsay — con- 
sidering all this, Thou didst persuade me, that not they 
who believed Thy Books (which Thou hast established in 
so great authority among almost all nations), but they who 
believed them not, were to be blamed; and that they were 
not to be heard who should say to me, " How knowest thou 
those Scriptures to have been imparted unto mankind by 
the Spirit of the one true and most true God ? " For this very 
thing was of all most to be believed, since no contentious- 
ness of blasphemous questionings, of all that multitude which 
I had read in the self-contradicting philosophers, could 
wring this belief from me, " That Thou art " whatsoever 
Thou wert (what I knew not), and "That the government 
of human things belongs to Thee." 

This I believed, sometimes more strongly, more weakly 
other-whiles; yet I ever believed both that Thou wert, and 
^ hadst a care of us; though I was ignorant, both what was 
to be thought of Thy substance, and what way led or led 
back to Thee. Since then we were too weak by abstract 
reasonings to find out truth : and for this very cause needed 
the authority of Holy Writ ; I had now begun to believe that 
Thou wouldest never have given such excellency of author- 
ity to that Writ in all lands, hadst Thou not willed thereby 
to be believed in, thereby sought. For now what things, 
sounding strangely in the Scripture, were wont to offend 
me, having heard divers of them expounded satisfactorily, 
I referred to the depths of the mysteries, and its authority 
appeared to me the more venerable, and more worthy of 
religious credence, in that, while it lay open to all to 
read, it reserved the majesty of its mysteries within its 
profounder meaning, stooping to all in the great plainness 
of its words and lowliness of its style, yet calling forth 
the intensest application of such as are not light of heart; 
that so it might receive all in its open bosom, and through 
"" narrow passages waft over towards Thee some few, yet 
many more than if it stood not aloft on such a height of 
V* authority, nor drew multitudes within its bosom by its holy 
lowliness. These things I thought on, and Thou wert with 
me; I sighed, and Thou heardest me; I wavered, and Thou 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 89 

didst guide me; I wandered through the broad way of the 
world, and Thou didst not forsake me. 

I panted after honours, ga ins, marria ge; and Thou de- 
ridest me. In these"desires I underwent most bitter crosses, 
Thou being the more gracious, the less Thou sufferedst 
aught to grow sweet to me, which was not Thou. Behold 
my heart, O Lord, who wouldest I should remember all 
this, and confess to Thee. Let my soul cleave unto Thee, 
now that Thou hast freed it from that fast-holding bird-lime 
of death. How wretched was it ! and Thou didst irritate 
the feeling of its wound, that forsaking all else, it might 
be converted unto Thee, who art above all, and without 
whom all things would be nothing; be converted, and be 
healed. How miserable was I then, and how didst Thou deal 
with me, to make me feel my misery on that day, when I 
was preparing to recite a panegyric of the Emperor, wherein 
I was to utter many a lie, and lying, was to be applauded 
by those who knew I lied, and my heart was panting with 
these anxieties, and boiling with the feverishness of con- 
suming thoughts. For, passing through one of the streets 
of Milan, I observed a poor beggar, then, I suppose, with a 
full belly, joking and joyous: and I sighed, and spoke to 
the friends around me, of the many sorrows of our frenzies ; 
for that by all such efforts of ours, as those wherein I then 
toiled, dragging along, under the goading of desire, the 
burthen of my own wretchedness, and, by dragging, aug- 
menting it, we yet looked to arrive only at that very joy- 
ousness whither that beggar-man had arrived before us, 
who should never perchance attain it. For what he had 
obtained by means of a few begged pence, the same was 
I plotting for by many a toilsome turning and winding; 
the joy of a temporary felicity. For he verily had not the 
true joy; but yet I with those my ambitious designs was 
seeking one much less true. And certainly he was joyous, 
I anxious; he void of care, I full of fears. But should any 
ask me, had I rather be merry or fearful? I would answer, 
merry. Again, if he asked had I rather be such as he was, 
or what I then was? I should choose to be myself, though 
worn with cares and fears; but out of wrong judgment; for, 
.was it the truth ? For I ought not to prefer myself to him. 



60 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

because more learned than he, seeing I had no joy therein, 
but sought to please men by it; and that not to instruct, 
but simply to please. Wherefore also Thou didst break my 
bones with the stafif of Thy correction. 

Away with those then from my soul who say to her, " It 
■^ '•f'makes a difference whence a man's joy is. That beggar-man 
joyed in drunkenness; Thou desiredst to joy in glory." 
What glory. Lord? That which is not in Thee. For even 
as his was no true joy, so was that no true glory: and it 
overthrew my soul more. He that very night should digest 
his drunkenness; but I had slept and risen again with mine, 
and was to sleep again, and again to rise with it, how many 
days. Thou, God, knowest. But " it doth make a difference 
whence a man's joy is." I know it, and the joy of a faithful 
hope lieth incomparably beyond such vanity. Yea, and so 
was he then beyond me: for he verily was the happier; 
not only for that he was thoroughly drenched in mirth, I 
disembowelled with cares : but he, by fair wishes, had gotten 
wine; I, by lying, was seeking for empty, swelling praise. 
Much to this purpose said I then to my friends: and I often 
marked in them how it fared with me; and I found it went 
ill with me, and grieved, and doubled that very ill; and if 
any prosperity smiled on me, I was loth to catch at it, for 
almost before I could grasp it, it flew away. 

These things we, who are living as friends together, be- 
moaned together, but chiefly and most familiarly did I speak 
thereof with Alypius and Nebridius, of whom Alypius was 
born in the same town with me, of persons of chief rank 
there, but younger than I. For he had studied under me, 
both when I first lectured in our town, and afterwards at 
Carthage, and he loved me much, because I seemed to him 
kind, and learned; and I him, for his great towardliness 
to virtue, which was eminent enough in one of no greater 
years. Yet the whirlpool of Carthaginian habits (amongst 
whom those idle spectacles are hotly followed) had drawn 
him into the madness of the Circus. But while he was 
miserably tossed therein, and I, professing rhetoric there, 
had a public school, as yet he used not my teaching, by 
reason of some unkindness risen betwixt his father and me. 
I had found then how deadly he doted upon the Circus, and 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 91 

was deeply grieved that he seemed likely, nay, or had thrown 
away so great promise: yet had I no means of advising 
or with a sort of constraint reclaiming him, either by the 
kindness of a friend, or the authority of a master. For I 
supposed that he thought of me as did his father; but he 
was not such; laying aside then his father's mind in that 
matter, he began to greet me, come sometimes into my 
lecture-room, hear a little, and be gone. 

I however had forgotten to deal with him, that he should 
not through a blind and headlong desire of vain pastimes, 
undo so good a wit. But Thou, O Lord, who guidest the 
course of all Thou hast created, hadst not forgotten him, 
who was one day to be among Thy children, Priest and 
Dispenser of Thy Sacrament ; and that his amendment might 
plainly be attributed to Thyself, Thou eflfectedst it through 
me, but unknowingly. For as one day I sat in my accus- 
tomed place, with my scholars before me, he entered, greeted 
me, sat down, and applied his mind to what I then handled. 
I had by chance a passage in hand, which while I was ex- 
plaining, a likeness from the Circensian races occurred 
to me, as likely to make what I would convey pleasanter 
and plainer, seasoned with biting mockery of those whom 
that madness had enthralled; God, Thou knowest that I then 
thought not of curing Alypius of that infection. But he 
took it wholly to himself, and thought that I said it simply 
for his sake. And whence another would have taken occa- 
sion of offence with me, that right-minded youth took as 
a ground of being offended at himself, and loving me more 
fervently. For Thou hadst said it long ago, and put it into 
Thy book, Rebuke a wise man and he will love thee.' But 
I had not rebuked him, but Thou, who employest all, knowing 
or not knowing, in that order which Thyself knowest (and 
that order is just), didst of my heart and tongue make 
burning coals, by which to set on fire the hopeful mind, thus 
languishing, and so cure it. Let him be silent in Thy praises, 
who considers not Thy mercies, which confess unto Thee 
out of my inmost soul. For he upon that speech burst out 
of that pit so deep, wherein he was wilfully plunged, and 
jWas blinded with its wretched pastimes; and he shook his 

• Prov. ix. 8. '— c 



f 



92 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

mind with a strong self-command; whereupon all the filths 
of the Circensian pastimes flew off from him, nor came 
he again thither. Upon this, he prevailed with his unwilling 
father that he might be my scholar. He gave way, and gave 
in. And Alypius beginning to be my hearer again, was in- 
volved in the same superstition with me, loving in the Mani- 
chees that show of continency which he supposed true and 
unfeigned. Whereas it was a senseless and seducing con- 
tinency, ensnaring precious souls, unable as yet to reach 
the depth of virtue, yet readily beguiled with the surface 
of what was but a shadowy and counterfeit virtue. 

He, not forsaking that secular course which his parents 
had charmed him to pursue, had gone before me to Rome, to 
study law, and there he was carried away incredibly with 
an incredible eagerness after the shows of gladiators. For 
being utterly averse to and detesting such spectacles, he was 
one day by chance met by divers of his acquaintance and 
fellow-students coming from dinner, and they with a familiar 
violence haled him, vehemently refusing and resisting, into 
the Amphitheatre, during these cruel and deadly shows, he 
thus protesting : " Though you hale my body to that place, and 
there set me, can you force me also to turn my mind or my 
eyes to those shows? I shall then be absent while present, 
and so shall overcome both you and them." They hearing 
this, led him on nevertheless, desirous perchance to try that 
very thing, whether he could do as he said. When they were 
come thither, and had taken their places as they could, the 
whole place kindled with that savage pastime. But he, clos- 
ing the passages of his eyes, forbade his mind to range 
abroad after such evils; and would he had stopped his ears 
also! For in the fight, when one fell, a mighty cry of the 
whole people striking him strongly, overcome by curiosity, 
and as if prepared to despise and be superior to it whatso- 
ever it were, even when seen, he opened his eyes, and was 
stricken with a deeper wound in his soul than the other, whom 
he desired to behold, was in his body; and he fell more 
miserably than he upon whose fall that mighty noise was 
raised, which entered through his ears, and unlocked his 
eyes, to make way for the striking and beating down of a 
soul, bold rather than resolute, and the weaker, in that it 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 93 

had presumed on itself, which ought to have relied on Thee. 
For so soon as he saw that blood, he therewith drunk down 
savageness; nor turned away, but fixed his eye, drinking in 
frenzy, unawares, and was delighted with that guilty fight, 
and intoxicated with the bloody pastime. Nor was he now 
the man he came, but one of the throng he came unto, yea, a 
true associate of theirs that brought him thither. Why 
say more? He beheld, shouted, kindled, carried thence with 
him the madness which should goad him to return not only 
with them who first drew him thither, but also before them, 
yea and to draw in others. Yet thence didst Thou with a 
most strong and most merciful hand pluck him, and taughtest 
him to have confidence not in himself, but in Thee. But 
this was after. 

But this was already being laid up in his memory to be a 
medicine hereafter. So was that also, that when he was 
yet studying under me at Carthage, and was thinking over 
at mid-day in the market-place what he was to say by heart 
(as scholars use to practise), Thou sufferedst him to be 
apprehended by the officers of the market-place for a thief. 
For no other cause, I deem, didst Thou, our God, suffer it 
but that he who was hereafter to prove so great a man, 
should already begin to learn that in judging of causes, man 
was not readily to be condemned by man out of a rash 
credulity. For as he was walking up and down by himself 
before the judgment-seat, with his note-book and pen, lo, a 
young man, a lawyer, the real thief, privily bringing a 
hatchet, got in, unperceived by Alypius, as far as the leaden 
gratings which fence in the silversmiths' shops, and began 
to cut away the lead. But the noise of the hatchet being 
heard, the silversmiths beneath began to make a stir, and 
sent to apprehend whomever they should find. But he hear- 
ing their voices, ran away, leaving his hatchet, fearing to be 
taken with it. Alypius now, who had not seen him enter, 
was aware of his going, and saw with what speed he made 
away. And being desirous to know the matter, entered the 
place; where finding the hatchet, he was standing, wonder- 
ing and considering it, when behold, those that had been 
sent, find him alone with the hatchet in his hand, the noise 
whereof had startled and brought them thither. They seize 



i 



94 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

him, hale him away, and gathering the dwellers in the 
market-place together, boast of having taken a notorious 
thief, and so he was being led away to be taken before the 
judge. 

But thus far was Alypius to be instructed. For forthwith, 
O Lord, Thou succouredst his innocency, whereof Thou alone 
wert witness. For as he was being led either to prison or 
to punishment, a certain architect met them, who had the 
chief charge of the public buildings. Glad they were to 
meet him especially, by whom they were wont to be sus- 
pected of stealing the goods lost out of the market-place, as 
though to show him at last by whom these thefts were com- 
mitted. He, however, had divers times seen Alypius at a 
certain senator's house, to whom he often went to pay his 
respects; and recognising him immediately, took him aside 
by the hand, and enquiring the occasion of so great a ca- 
lamity, heard the whole matter, and bade all present, amid 
much uproar and threats, to go with him. So they came to 
the house of the young man who had done the deed. There, 
before the door, was a boy so young as to be likely, not 
apprehending any harm to his master, to disclose the whole. 
For he had attended his master to the market-place. Whom 
so soon as Alypius remembered, he told the architect : and 
he showing the hatchet to the boy, asked him " Whose that 
was ? " " Ours," quoth he presently : and being further 
questioned, he discovered every thing. Thus the crime be- 
ing transferred to that house, and the multitude ashamed, 
which had begun to insult over Alypius, he who was to be 
a dispenser of Thy Word, and an examiner of many causes 
in Thy Church, went away better experienced and instructed. 

Him then I had found at Rome, and he clave to me by a 
most strong tie, and went with me to Milan, both that he 
might not leave me, and might practise something of the 
law he had studied, more to please his parents than himself. 
There he had thrice sat as Assessor, with an uncorruptness 
much wondered at by others, he wondering at others rather 
who could prefer gold to honesty. His character was tried 
besides, not only with the bait of covetousness, but with the 
goad of fear. At Rome he was Assessor to the count of 
the Italian Treasury. There was at that time a very power- 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 95 

ful senator, to whose favours many stood indebted, many 
much feared. He would needs, by his usual power, have a 
thing allowed him which by the laws was unallowed. Aly- 
pius resisted it: a bribe was promised; with all his heart he 
scorned it: threats were held out; he trampled upon them: 
all wondering at so unwonted a spirit, which neither desired 
the friendship, nor feared the enmity of one so great and so 
mightily renowned for innumerable means of doing good 
or evil. And the very Judge, whose councillor Alypius was, 
although also unwilling it should be, yet did not openly re- 
fuse, but put the matter off upon Alypius, alleging that he 
would not allow him to do it : for in truth had the Judge 
done it, Alypius would have decided otherwise. With this 
one thing in the way of learning was he well-nigh seduced, 
that he might have books copied for him at Praetorian prices, 
but consulting justice, he altered his deliberation for the 
better; esteeming equity whereby he was hindered more 
gainful than the power whereby he were allowed. These 
are slight things, but he that is faithful in little, is faithful 
also in much.'' Nor can that any how be void, which pro- 
ceeded out of the mouth of Thy Truth : If ye have not been 
faithful in the unrighteous Mammon, who will commit to 
your trust true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in 
that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is 
your own?* He being such, did at that time cleave to me, 
and with me wavered in purpose, what course of life was ' 
to be taken. 

Nebridius also, who having left his native country near 
Carthage, yea and Carthage itself, where he had much lived, 
leaving his excellent family-estate and house, and a mother 
behind, who was not to follow him, had come to Milan, for 
no other reason but that with me he might live in a most 
ardent search after truth and wisdom. Like me he sighed, 
like me he wavered, an ardent searcher after true life, and 
a most acute examiner of the most difficult questions. Thus 
were there the mouths of three indigent persons, sighing out 
their wants one to another, and waiting upon Thee that Thou 
mightest give them their meat in due season^ And in all the 
bitterness which by Thy mercy followed our worldly affairs, 

''Luke xvi. lo. 'Luke xvi. ii, 12. •Ps. cxlv. 15. 



96 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

as we looked towards the end, why we should suffer all this, 
darkness met us; and we turned away groaning, and say- 
ing. How long shall these things he? This too we often 
said; and so saying forsook them not, for as yet there 
dawned nothing certain,^ which, these forsaken, we might 
embrace. 

And I, viewing and reviewing things, most wondered at 
the length of time from that my nineteenth year, wherein 
I had begun to kindle with the desire of wisdom, settling 
when I had found her, to abandon all the empty hopes and 
lying frenzies of vain desires. And lo, I was now in _my 
thj^rtieth jearj, ^ticking in the sam e mire,~i:reedy of enjoying 
things present, which passed away and wasted my soul; 
while I said to myself, " To-morrow I shall find it ; it will 
appear manifestly, and I shall grasp it ; Faustus the Manichee 
will come, and clear every thing! O you great men, ye 
Academicians, it is true then, that no certainty can be at- 
tained for the ordering of life ! Nay, let us search the more 
diligently, and despair not. Lo, things in the ecclesiastical 
books are not absurd to us now, which sometimes seemed 
absurd, and may be otherwise taken, and in a good sense. 
I will take my stand, where, as a child, my parents placed 
me, until the clear truth be found out. But where shall 
it be sought or when? Ambrose has no leisure; we have 
no leisure to read; where shall we find even the books? 
Whence, or when procure them? from whom borrow them? 
Let set times be appointed, and certain hours be ordered for 
the health of our soul. Great hope has dawned ; the Catholic 
Faith teaches not what we thought, and vainly accused it 
of; her instructed members hold it profane to believe God 
to be bounded by the figure of a human body: and do we 
doubt to ' knock,' that the rest ' may be opened ' ? The fore- 
noons our scholars take up; what do we during the rest? 
Why not this? But when then pay we court to our great 
friends, whose favour we need? When compose what we 
may sell to scholars? When refresh ourselves, unbending 
our minds from this intenseness of care ? " 

" Perish every thing, dismiss we these empty vanities, and 
betake ourselves to the one search for truth! Life is vain, 
death uncertain; if it steals upon us on a sudden, in what 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 97 

state shall we depart hence? and where shall we learn what 
here we have neglected? and shall we not rather suffer the 
punishment of this negligence? What, if death itself cut 
off and end all care and feeling? Then must this be ascer- 
tained. But God forbid this ! It is no vain and empty thing, 
that the excellent dignity of the authority of the Christian 
Faith hath overspread the whole world. Never would such 
and so great things be by God wrought for us, if with the 
death of the body the life of the soul came to an end. Where- 
fore delay then to abandon worldly hopes, and give ourselves 
wholly to seek after God and the blessed life? But wait! 
Even those things are pleasant; they have some, and no 
small sweetness. We must not lightly abandon them, for it 
were a shame to return again to them. See, it is no great 
matter now to obtain some station, and then what should 
we more wish for? We have store of powerful friends; if 
nothing else offer, and we be in much haste, at least a presi- 
dentship may be given us : and a wife with some money, that 
she increase not our charges : and this shall be the bound of 
desire. Many great men, and most worthy of imitation, have 
given themselves to the study of wisdom in the state of 
marriage." 

While I went over these things, and these winds shifted 
and drove my heart this way and that, time passed on, but 
I delayed to turn to the Lord ; and from day to day deferred 
to live in Thee, and deferred not daily to die in myself. 
Loving a happy life, I feared it in its own abode, and sought 
it, by fleeing from it. I thought I should be too miserable, 
unless folded in female arms; and of the medicine of Thy 
mercy to cure that infirmity I thought not, not having tried it. 
As for continency, I supposed it to be in our own power 
(though in myself I did not find that power), being so 
foolish as not to know what is written, None can he continent 
unless Thou give it;^'^ and that Thou wouldest give it, if with 
inward groanings I did knock at Thine ears, and with a 
settled faith did cast my care on Thee. 

Alypius indeed kept me from marrying; alleging that so 
could we by no means with undistracted leisure live together 
in the love of wisdom, as we had long desired. For himself 

"> Wisd. viii. a. — Vvilg. 

4 — Hc vn 



88 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

was even then most pure in this point, so that it was wonder- 
ful; and that the more, since in the outset of his youth he 
had entered into that course, but had not stuck fast therein; 
rather had he felt remorse and revolting at it, living thence- 
forth until now most continently. But I opposed him with 
the examples of those who as married men had cherished 
wisdom, and served God acceptably, and retained their 
friends, and loved them faithfully. Of whose greatness of 
spirit I was far short; and bound with the disease of the 
flesh and its deadly sweetness, drew along my chain, dread- 
ing to be loosed, and as if my wound had been fretted, put 
back his good persuasions, as it were the hand of one that 
would unchain me. Moreover, by me did the serpent speak 
unto Alypius himself, by my tongue weaving and laying in 
his path pleasurable snares, wherein his virtuous and free 
feet might be entangled. 

For when he wondered that I, whom he esteemed not 
slightly, should stick so fast in the birdlime of that pleasure, 
as to protest (so oft as we discussed it) that I could never 
lead a single life ; and urged in my defence when I saw 
him wonder, that there was great difference between his 
momentary and scarce-remembered knowledge of that life, 
which so he might easily despise, and my continued acquaint- 
ance whereto if but the honourable name of marriage were 
added, he ought not to wonder why I could not contemn that 
course; he began also to desire to be married; not as over- 
come with desire of such pleasure, but out of curiosity. For 
he would fain know, he said, what that should be, without 
which my life, to him so pleasing, would to me seem not life 
but a punishment. For his mind, free from that chain, was 
amazed at my thraldom; and through that amazement was 
going on to a desire of trying it, thence to the trial itself, 
and thence perhaps to sink into that bondage whereat he 
wondered, seeing he was willing to make a covenant with 
death -^ and h^ that loves danger, shall fall into it?' For 
whatever honour there be in the office of well-ordering a 
married life, and a family, moved us but slightly. But me 
for the most part the habit of satisfying an insatiable ap- 
petite tormented, while it held me captive; him, an admiring 

** Is. xxviii. 15. *• Ecclus. iii. 27. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 99 

wonder was leading captive. So were we, until Thou, O 
Most High, not forsaking our dust, commiserating us miser- 
able, didst come to our help, by wondrous and secret ways. 

Continual effort was made to have me married. I wooed, 
I was promised, chiefly through my mother's pains, that so 
once married, the health-giving baptism might cleanse me, 
towards which she rejoiced that I was being daily fitted, 
and observed that heT prayers, and Thy promises, 
were being fulfilled in my faith. At which time verily, 
both at my request and her own longing, with strong cries 
of heart she daily begged of Thee, that Thou wouldest by 
a vision discover unto her something concerning my future 
marriage ; Thou never wouldest. She saw indeed certain 
vain and fantastic things, such as the energy of the human 
spirit, busied thereon, brought together; and these she told 
me of, not with that confidence she was wont, when Thou 
showedst her any thing, but slighting them. For she could, 
she said, through a certain feeling, which in words she could 
not express, discern betwixt Thy revelations, and the dreams 
of her own soul. Yet the matter was pressed on, and a 
maiden asked in marriage, two years under the fit age; and, 
as pleasing, was waited for. 

And many of us friends conferring about, and detesting 
the turbulent turmoils of human life, had debated and now 
almost resolved on living apart from business and the bustle 
of men ; and this was to be thus obtained ; we were to bring 
whatever we might severally procure, and make one house- 
hold of all ; so that through the truth of our friendship noth- 
ing should belong especially to any; but the whole thus 
derived from all, should as a whole belong to each, and all 
to all. We thought there might be some ten persons in this 
society; some of whom were very rich, especially Roman- 
ianus our townsman, from childhood a very familiar friend 
of mine, whom the grievous perplexities of his affairs had 
brought up to court; who was the most earnest for this proj- 
ect; and therein was his voice of great weight, because his 
ample estate far exceeded any of the rest. We had settled 
also that two annual officers, as it were, should provide all 
things necessary, the rest being undisturbed. But when 
we began to consider whether the wives, which some of 



100 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

us already had, others hoped to have, would allow this, all 
that plan, which was being so well moulded, fell to pieces 
in our hands, was utterly dashed and cast aside. Thence 
we betook us to sighs, and groans, and our steps to follow 
the broad and beaten ways of the world ;^ for many thoughts 
were in our heart, but Thy counsel standeth for ever}*' Out 
of which counsel Thou didst deride ours, and preparedst 
Thine own ; purposing to give us meat in due season, and to 
open Thy hand, and to Ml our souls with blessing." 

Meanwhile my sins were being multiplied, and my con- <^ 
cubine being torn from my side as a hindrance to my mar- / 
riage, my heart which clave unto her was torn and woundecF o 
and bleeding. And she returned to Afric, vowing unto Thee \ 
never to know any other man, leaving with me my son by»^ 
her. But unhappy I, who could not imitate a very woman, 
impatient of delay, inasmuch as not till after two years was 
I to obtain her I sought, not being so much a lover of mar- 
riage as a slave to lust, procured another, though no wife, 
that so by the servitude of arfendurlng custom, the disease of 
my soul might be kept up and carried on in its vigour, or 
even augmented, into the dominion of marriage. Nor was 
that my wound cured, which had been made by the cutting 
away of the former, but after inflammation and most acute 
pain, it mortified, and my pains became less acute, but more 
desperate. 

To Thee be praise, glory to Thee, Fountain of mercies. 
I was becoming more miserable, and Thou nearer. Thy 
right hand was continually ready to pluck me out of the 
mire, and to wash me throughly, and I knew it not; nor did 
any thing call me back from a yet deeper gulf of carnal 
pleasures, but the fear of death, and of Thy judgment to 
come; which amid all my changes, never departed from my 
breast. And in my disputes with my friends Alypius and 
Nebridius of the nature of good and evil, I held that Epi- 
curus had in my mind won the palm, had I not believed that i^v 
after death there remained a life for the soul, and places 
of requital according to men's deserts, which Epicurus would 
not believe. And I asked, " were we immortal, and to live 
in perpetual bodily pleasures, without fear of losing it, why 
"Matt vii. 13. "Ps. xxxiii. 11. "Ps. cxlv. 15, 16. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 101 

should we not be happy, or what else should we seek ? " not 
knowing that great misery was involved in this very thing, 
that, being thus sunk and blinded, I could not discern that 
light of excellence and beauty, to be embraced for its own 
sake, which the eye of flesh cannot see, and is seen by the 
inner man. Nor did I, unhappy, consider from what source 
it sprung, that even on these things, foul as they were, I 
with pleasure discoursed with my friends, nor could I, even 
according to the notions I then had of happiness, be happy 
without friends, amid what abundance soever of carnal pleas- 
ures. And yet these friends I loved for themselves only, 
and I felt that I was beloved of them again for myself only. 
O crooked paths! Woe to the audacious soul, which 
hoped, by forsaking Thee, to gain some better thing ! Turned 
it hath, and turned again, upon back, sides, and belly, yet 
all was painful; and Thou alone rest. And behold. Thou 
art at hand, and deliverest us from our wretched wanderings, 
and placest us in Thy way, and dost comfort us, and say, 
" Run ; I will carry you ; yea I will bring you through ; 
there also will I carry you." 



THE SEVENTH BOOK 

Augustine's thirty-first year; gradually extricated from his errors, 
but still with material conceptions of God ; much aided by an 
argument of Nebridius ; sees that the cause of sin lies in free- 
will, rejects the Manichaean heresy, but can not altogether 
embrace the doctrine of the Church ; recovered from the belief 
in Astrology, but miserably perplexed about the origin of evil ; 
is led to find in the Platonists the seeds of the doctrine of the 
Divinity of the Word, but not of His humiliation ; hence he 
obtains clearer notions of God's majesty, but, not knowing 
Christ to be the Mediator, remains estranged from Him ; all 
his doubts removed by the study of Holy Scripture, especially 
St. Paul 

DECEASED was now that my evil and abominable 
youth, and I was passing into early manhood; the 
more defiled by vain things as I grew in years, who 
could not imagine any substance, but such as is wont to 
be seen with these eyes. I thought not of Thee, O God. 
under the figure of a human body; since I began to hear 
aught of wisdom, I always avoided this; and rejoiced to 
have found the same in the faith of our spiritual mother, 
Thy Catholic Church. But what else to conceive Thee 
I knew not. And I, a man, and such a man, sought to con- 
ceive of Thee the sovereign, only, true God; and I did in 
my inmost soul believe that Thou wert incorruptible, and 
uninjurable. and unchangeable; because though not knowing 
whence or how, yet I saw plainly, and was sure, that that 
which may be corrupted must be inferior to that which 
cannot; what could not be injured I preferred unhesitatingly 
to what could receive injury; the unchangeable to things 
subject to change. My heart passionately cried out against 
all my phantoms, and with this one blow I sought to beat 
away from the eye of my mind all that unclean troop which 
buzzed around it. And lo, being scarce put off, in the 

102 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 103 

twinkling of an eye they gathered again thick about 
me, flew against my face, and beclouded it; so that though 
not under the form of the human body, yet was I constrained 
to conceive of Thee (that incorruptible, uninjurable, and 
unchangeable, which I preferred before the corruptible, 
and injurable, and changeable) as being in space, whether 
infused into the world, or diffused infinitely without it. 
Because whatsoever I conceived, deprived of this space, 
seemed to me nothing, yea altogether nothing, not even a 
void, as if a body were taken out of its place, and the place 
should remain empty of any body at all, of earth and water, 
air and heaven, yet would it remain a void place, as it were 
a spacious nothing. 
I then being thus gross-hearted, nor clear even to myself, 
•if whatsoever was not extended over certain spaces, nor dif- 
fused, nor condensed, nor swelled out, or did not or could 
not receive some of these dimensions, I thought to be alto- 
gether nothing. For over such forms as my eyes are wont 
to range, did my heart then range: nor yet did I see that 
this same notion of the mind, whereby I formed those very 
images, was not of this sort, and yet it could not have formed . 
them, had not itself been some great thing. So also did l""^ 
endeavour to conceive of Thee, Life of my life, as vast, 
through infinite spaces on every side penetrating the whole 
mass of the universe, and beyond it, every way, through 
unmeasurable boundless spaces; so that the earth should 
have Thee, the heaven have Thee, all things have Thee, 
and they be bounded in Thee, and Thou bounded nowhere. 
For that as the body of this air which is above the earth, 
hindereth not the light of the sun from passing through it, 
penetrating it, not by bursting or by cutting, but by filling 
it wholly: so I thought the body not of heaven, air, and sea 
only, but of the earth too, previous to Thee, so that in all 
its parts, the greatest as the smallest, it should admit Thy 
presence, by a secret inspiration within and without, direct- 
ing all things which Thou hast created. So I guessed, only 
as unable to conceive aught else, for it was false. For thus 
l^ should a greater part of the earth contain a greater portion 
of Thee, and a less, a lesser: and all things should in such 
sort be full of Thee, that the body of an elephant should 



104 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

contain more of Thee than that of a sparrow, by how much 
larger it is and takes up more room; and thus shouldest 
Thou make the several portions of Thyself present unto the 
several portions of the world, in fragments, large to the 
large, petty to the petty. But such are not Thou. But 
not as yet hadst Thou enlightened my darkness. 

It was enough for me. Lord, to oppose to those deceived 
deceivers, and dumb praters, since Thy word sounded not 
out of them; — that was enough which long ago, while we 
were yet at Carthage, Nebridius used to propound, at which 
all we that heard it were staggered: " That said natio n of 
darkness, which the Manichees are wont to set as a n~Tip - 
r'^!!ac' ""'^>'' ^iV^iJLJtg alnst Th^e, wh^l muia U liavr"(Tnne 
u nto Thee ,_li adst ThotTTe f useg to hght with it.'' For, if 
they answered, 'it wouid~Tiave done Thce gaitt^ hurt; tne o^ 
slfouiaest Thou be su bject to injur yandc orruption ^: but if 
'it could do Thee^no nurtT^then was'ilo r'eason brought for 
Thy fighting with it; and fighting in such wise, as that a 
certain portion or member of Thee, or offspring of Thy very 
Substance, should be mingled with opposed powers, and 
natures not created by Thee, and be by them so far cor- 
rupted and changed to the worse, as to be turned from 
happiness into misery, and need assistance, whereby it might 
be extricated and purified; and that this offspring of Thy 
Substance was the soul, which being enthralled, defiled, 
corrupted. Thy Word free, pure and whole might relieve; 
that Word itself being still corruptible because it was of 
one and the same Substance. So then, should they affirm 
Thee, whatsoever Thou art, that is, Thy Substance whereby 
Thou art, to be incorruptible, then were all these sayings 
false and execrable; but if corruptible, the very statement 
showed it to be false and revolting." This argument then 
of NJgbridius sufficed against those who deserved wholly to 
be vomite^lhtjut of the overcharged stomach ; for they had 
no escape, without horrible blasphemy of heart and tongue, 
thus thinking and speaking of Thee. 

But I also as yet, although I held and was firmly per- 
suaded that Thou our Lord the true God, who madest not 
only our souls, but our bodies, and not only our souls and 
bodies, but all beings, and all things wert undefilable and 



xy 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 105 

unalterable, and in no degree mutable; yet understood 
I not, clearly and without difficulty, the cause of evil. 
And yet whatever it were, I perceived it was in 
such wise to be sought out, as should not constrain me to 
believe the immutable God to be mutable, lest I should 
become that evil I was seeking out. I sought it out then, 
thus far free from anxiety, certain of the untruth of what 
these held, from whom I shrunk with my whole heart: for 
I saw, that through enquirinp- the nn'fyjn^f evil, they were 
filled with evil, in that they preferredto think that Thy 
substance did bulTKi ill llian their own did c ortlTnif iTT ^ 

"" And 1 strained to perceive what 1 now heard, that free- 
will was the cause of our doing ill, and Thy just judgment 
of our suffering ill. But I was not able clearly to discern 
it. So then endeavouring to draw my soul's vision out of 
that deep pit, I was again plunged therein, and endeavouring 
often, I was plunged back as often. But this raised me a 
little into Thy light,(^^^ I knew as well that I had a will.^f e^ 
^that I Hved : when then I did will or nill any thing, I was^^^ 
most sure that no other than myself did will and nill: and ^'^^^** 
I all but saw th^t_there was the cause of my sin. But what 

JE^did against inyjwill, I saw that I suffered rather than did, 
and I judged not to be my fault, but my punishment; whereby 
however, holding Thqe to be Just, I speedily confessed myself 

-to be not unjustly punished. But again I said, WTio made 
me? Did not my God, who is not only good, but goodness 
itself? Whence then came I to will evil and nill good, so 
that I am thus justly punished? who set this in me, and 
ingrafted into me this plant of bitterness, seeing I was 
wholly formed by my most sweet God? If the devil were 
the author, whence is that same devil? And if he also by 
his own perverse will, of a good angel became a devil, 
whence, again, came in him that evil will whereby he became 
a devil, seeing the whole nature of angels was made by that 
most good Creator? By these thoughts I was again sunk 
down and choked; yet not brought down to that hell of 
error (where no man confesseth unto Thee), to think rather I 
that Thou dost suffer ill, than that man doth it.^ { 

For I was in such wise striving to find out the rest, as " 

iPs. vi. 5. 



'^ 



106 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

one who had already found that the incorruptible must 
^ V needs be better than the corruptible: and Thee therefore, 
^XiT whatsoever Thou wert, I confessed to be incorruptible. For 
^ JU never soul was, nor shall be able to conceive any thing which 
y^ may be better than Thou, who art the sovereign and the 
I- best good. But since most truly and certainly, the incorrup- 
Jf^ tible is preferable to the corruptible (as I did now prefer 
>^ it), then, wert Thou not incorruptible, I could in thought 
"Jy , have arrived at something better than my God. Where then 
I saw the incorruptible to be preferable to the corruptible, 
there ought I to seek for Thee, and there observe " wherein 
e^l itself was ;" that is, whence corruption comes, bywllirh 
Thysubsiance can by no means be impaired. F or rorrnptin n 
doe s no ways impair our G od ; by no willj__bylna necessity, 
by no unlooked-fo r chance: because He is God, and what 
He wills is good, ana Himseif is that good; but to be cor- 
rupted is not good. N or art Thou aprainst T hv will con- 
strained toany thing, since Thy will is noF'gfg at e i — than 
TTTT"power. Bilt gf eatSr should it be, wer'e Thyself greater 
than Thyself. For the will and power of God is God Him- 
self. And what can be unlooked for by Thee, who knowest 
all things? N or is there any nature in thing? , but Th"" 
know est it. And what should we more say, " why that sub- 
sTance which God is should not be corruptible," seeing if it 

T^rrs rO] it "ih fiuld not be God? „_____ 

And I sought " whence is evil," and sought in an evil way ; 
\ and saw not the evil in my very search. I set now before 
the sight of my spirit the whole creation, whatsoever we can 
see therein (as sea, earth, air, stars, trees, mortal creatures) j 
yea, and whatever in it we do not see, as the firmament of 
heaven, all angels moreover, and all the spiritual inhabitants 
thereof. But these very beings, as though they were bodies, 
did my fancy dispose in place, and I made one great mass 
of Thy creation, distinguished as to the kinds of bodies ; some, 
real bodies, some, what myself had feigned for spirits. And 
this mass I made huge, not as it was (which I could not 
know), but as I thought convenient, yet every way finite. 
But Thee, O Lord, I imagined on every part environing and 
penetrating it, though every way infinite: as if there were 
a sea, every where, and on every side, through unmeasured 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 107 

space, one only boundless sea, and it contained within it some 
f sponge, huge, but bounded; that sponge must needs, in all 
its parts, be filled from that unmeasurable sea: so conceived 
I Thy creation, itself finite, full of Thee, the Infinite; and 
I said. Behold God, and behold what God hath created; and 
God is good, yea, most mightily and incomparably better 
than all these: but yet He, the Good, created them good; 
and see how He environeth and fulfils them. Where is evil 
then, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its 
root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being? Why then 
fear we and avoid what is not? Or if we fear it idly, 
then is that very fear evil, whereby the soul is thus idly 
goaded and racked. Yea, and so much a greater evil, as we 
have nothing to fear, and yet do fear. Therefore either is 
that evil which we fear, or else evil is, that we fear. Whence 
is it then? seeing God, the Good, hath created all these 
things good. He indeed, the greater and chiefest Good, hath 
created these lesser goods ; still both Creator and created, all 
are good. Whence is evil ? Or, was there some evil matter 
of which He made, and formed, and ordered it, yet left some- 
thing in it which He did not convert into good? Why so 
then ? Had He no right to turn and change the whole, so that 
no evil should remain in it, seeing He is Almighty? Lastly, 
why should He make any thing at all of it, and not rather 
by the same All-mightiness cause it not to be at all? Or, 
could-it thett^^gainsX_His will? Or if it were from eter- 
nity, why suffered He it so to~be for infinite spaces of times 
past, and was pleased so long after to make something out 
of it? Or if He were suddenly pleased now to effect some- 
what, this rather should the All-mighty have effected, that 
this evil matter should not be, and He alone be, the whole, 
true, sovereign, and infinite Good. Or if it was not good 
that He who was good should not also frame and create 
something that were good, then, that evil matter being taken 
away and brought to nothing, He might form good matter, 
whereof to create all things. For He should not be All- 
mighty, if He might not create something good without the 
aid of that matter which Himself had not created. These 
thoughts I revolved in my miserable heart, overcharged with 
most gnawing cares, lest I should die ere I had found the 



108 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

truth ; yet was the faith of Thy Christ, our Lord and Saviour, 
professed in the Church Catholic, firmly fixed in my earth, 
in many points, indeed, as yet unformed, and fluctuating 
from the rule of doctrine; yet did not my mind utterly 
'leave it, but rather daily took in more and more of it. 
VU ¥ By this time also had I rejected the lying divinations and 
/ impious dotages of the astrologers. Let Thine own mercies, 
I out of my very inmost soul, confess unto Thee for this also, 
O my God.'' For Thou, Thou altogether (for who else calls 
us back from the death of all errors, save the Life which 
cannot die, and the Wisdom which needing no light en- 
lightens the minds that need it, whereby the universe is 
directed, down to the whirling leaves of trees?), — Thou 
madest provision for my obstinacy wherewith I struggled 
against Vindicianus,^ an acute old man, and Nebridius, a 
young man of admirable talents; the first vehemently affirm- 
ing, and the latter often (though with some doubtfulness) 
saying, " Tha^ there was no such art whereby to foresee 
things to come, but that men's conjectures were a sort of 
lottery, and that out of many things which they said should 
come to pass, some actually did, unawares to them who spake 
it, who stumbled upon it, through their oft speaking." Thou 
providest then a friend for me, no negligent consulter of the 
astrologers; nor yet well skilled in those arts, but (as I 
said) a curious consulter with them, and yet knowing some- 
thing, which he said he had heard of his father, which how 
far it went to overthrow the estimation of that art, he knew 
not. This man then, Firminus by name, having had a 
liberal education, and well taught in Rhetoric, consulted me, 
as one very dear to him, what, according to his so-called 
constellations, I thought on certain affairs of his, wherein 
his worldly hopes had risen, and I, who had herein now 
begun to incline towards Nebridius' opinion, did not alto- 
gether refuse to conjecture, and tell him what came into my 
unresolved mind: but added, that I was now almost per- 
suaded that these were but empty and ridiculous follies. 
Thereupon he told me that his father had been very curious 
in such books, and had a friend as earnest in them as him- 
self, who with joint study and conference fanned the flame 
•Ps. cvi. 8.— Vulg. • See Book IV., p. 50. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 109 

of their affections to these toys, so that they would observe 
the moments whereat the very dumb animals, which bred 
about their houses, gave birth, and then observed the relative 
position of the heavens, thereby to make fresh experiments 
in this so-called art. He said then that he had heard of 
his father, that what time his mother was about to give birth 
to him, Firminus, a woman-servant of that friend of his 
father's was also with child, which could not escape her 
master, who took care with most exact diligence to know 
the births of his very puppies. And so it was that (the one 
for his wife, and the other for his servant, with the most 
careful observation, reckoning days, hours, nay, the lesser 
divisions of the hours) both were delivered at the same 
instant; so that both were constrained to allow the same 
constellations, even to the minutest points, the one for 
his son, the other for his new-born slave. For so soon as 
the women began to be in labour, they each gave notice to 
the other what was fallen out in their houses, and had 
messengers ready to send to one another so soon as they 
had notice of the actual birth, of which they had easily pro- 
vided, each in his own province, to give instant intelligence. 
Thus then the messengers of the respective parties met, he 
averred, at such an equal distance from either house, that 
neither of them could make out any difference in the position 
of the stars, or any other minutest points ; and yet Firminus, 
born in a high estate in his parents' house, ran his course 
through the gilded paths of life, was increased in riches, 
raised to honours; whereas that slave continued to serve 
his masters, without any relaxation of his yoke, as Firminus, 
who knew him, told me. 

Upon hearing and believing these things, told by one ot 
such credibility, all that my resistance gave way; and first I 
endeavoured to reclaim Firminus himself from that curiosity, 
by telling him that upon inspecting his constellations, I ought, 
if I were to predict truly, to have seen in them parents emi- 
nent among their neighbours, a noble family in its own city 
high birth, good education, liberal learning. But if that 
servant had consulted me upon the same constellations, since 
they were his also, I ought again (to tell him too truly) to 
see in them a lineage the most abject, a slavish condition. 



110 THB CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

and every thing else utterly at variance with the former, 
Whence then, if I spake the truth, I should, from the same 
constellations, speak diversely, or if I spake the same, speak 
falsely: thence it followed most certainly that whatever, 
upon consideration of the constellations, was spoken truly, 
was spoken not out of art, but chance ; and whatever spoken 
falsely, was not out of ignorance in the art, but the failure 
of the chance. 
\ An opening thus made, ruminating with myself on the 
like things, that no one of those dotards (who lived by 
such a trade, and whom I longed to attack, and with de- 
rision to confute) might urge against me that Firminus 
had informed me falsely, or his father him; I bent my 
thoughts on those that are born twins, who for the most part 
come out of the womb so near one to other, that the small 

, interval (how much force soever in the nature of things 
folk may pretend to have) cannot be noted by human obser- 
vation, or be at all expressed in those figures which the 
astrologer is to inspect, that he may pronounce truly. Yet 
they cannot be true: for looking into the same figures, he 
must have predicted the same of Esau and Jacob, whereas 
the same happened not to them. Therefore he must speak 
falsely; or if truly, then, looking into the same figures, 
he must not give the same answer. Not by art, then, but 
by chance, would he speak truly. For Thou, O Lord, most 
righteous Ruler of the Universe, while consulters and con- 
sulted know it not, dost by Thy hidden inspiration effect that 
the consulter should hear what, according to the hidden de- 
servings of souls, he ought to hear, out of the unsearchable 
depth of Thy just judgment, to Whom let no man say, What 
is this ? Why that ? Let him not so say, for he is man. 

Now then, O my Helper, hadst thou loosed me from those 
fetters : and I sought " whence is evil," and found no way. 

, But thou sufferedst me not by any fluctuations of thought 
to be carried away from the Faith whereby I believed Thee 
both to be, and Thy substance to be unchangeable, and that 
Thou hast a care of, and wouldest judge men, and that in 
Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, and the holy Scriptures, which 
the authority of Thy Catholic Church pressed upon me. 
Thou hadst set the way of man's salvation, to that life which 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 111 

is to be after this death. These. things being safe and im- 
movably settled in my mind, I sought anxiously " whence 
was evil ? " What were the pangs of my teeming heart, what 
groans, O my God ! yet even there were Thine ears open, 
and I knew it not : and when in silence I vehemently sought, 
those silent contritions of my soul were strong cries unto 
Thy mercy. Thou knewest what I suffered, and no man. 
For, what was that which was thence through my tongue 
distilled into the ears of my most familiar friends? Did 
the whole tumult of my soul, for which neither time nor 
utterance sufficed, reach them? Yet went up the whole to 
Thy hearing, all which I roared out from the groanings 
of my heart; and my desire was before Thee, and the light 
of mine eyes was not with me :* for that was within. I with- 
out: nor was that confined to place, but I was intent on 
things contained in place, but there found I no resting-place, 
nor did they so receive me, that I could say, " It is enough," 
" it is well : " nor did they yet suffer me to turn back, where 
it might be well enough with me. For to these things was I 
superior, but inferior to Thee; and Thou art my true joy 
when subjected to Thee, and Thou hadst subjected to me 
what Thou createdst below me. And this was the true tem- 
perament, and middle region of my safety, to remain in Thy 
Image, and by serving Thee, rule the body. But when 
I rose proudly against Thee, and ran against the Lord with 
my, neck, with the thick bosses of my buckler,^ even these 
inferior things were set above me, and pressed me down, 
and no where was there respite or space for breathing. They 
met my sight on all sides by heaps and troops, and in thought 
the images thereof presented themselves unsought, as I 
would return to Thee, as if they would say unto me, 
" Whither goest thou, unworthy and defiled ? " And these 
things had grown out of my wound ; for Thou " humbledst 
the proud like one that is wounded,"* and through my own 
swelling was I separated from Thee; yea, my pride-swollen 
face closed up mine eyes. 

But Thou, Lord, abidest for ever, yet not for ever art 
Thou angry with us ; because Thou pitiest our dust and ashes, 
and it was pleasing in Thy sight to reform my deformities; 
*Ps. xxxvii. 9-n. — Vulg. •Job ■^^ a6. 'Ps. Ixxxviii. ii. — Vulg. 



112 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

and by inward goads didst Thou rouse me, that I should be 
ill at ease, until Thou wert manifested to my inward sight. 
Thus, by the secret hand of Thy medicining was my swelling 
abated, and the troubled and bedimmed eye-sight of my 
mind, by the smarting anointings of healthful sorrows, was 
from day to day healed. 

And Thou, willing first to show me how Thou resistest 
the proud, hut givest grace unto the humble,^ and by how 
great an act of Thy Mercy Thou hadst traced out to men 
the way of humility, in that Thy Word was made flesh, and 
dwelt among men: — Thou procuredst for me, by means of 
one puffed up with most unnatural pride, certain books 
of the Platonists, translated from Greek into Latin. And 
therein I read, not indeed in the very words, but to the 
very same purpose, enforced by many and divers reasons, 
that In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with 
God, and the Word was God: the Same was in the begin- 
ning with God: all things were made by Him, and without 
Him was nothing made: that which was made by Him is 
life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shineth 
in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.^ And 
that the soul of man, though it bears witness to the light, yet 
itself is not that light; but the Word of God, being God, 
is that true light that lighteth every man that cometh into 
the world.^ And that He was in the world, and the world 
was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.^° But that 
He came unto His own, and His own received Him not;^ 
hut as many as received Him, to them gave He power to be- 
come the sons of God, as many as believed in His name;^' 
this I read not there. 
. Again I read there, that God the Word was born not of 
\}fiesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, nor of the 
will of the flesh, but of Godr But that the Word was 
made flesh, and dwelt among us,^* I read not there. For 
I traced in those books that it was many and divers 
ways said, that the Son was in the form of the Father, and 
thought it not robbery to be equal with God, for that 
naturally He was the Same Substance. But that He 



'Jam. iv. 6; i Pet v. 5. •John i. 1-5. * lb. o. 
^Ib. n. "/&. 13. "lb. 13. "/b. 



14. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 113 

emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made 
in the likeness of men, and found in fashion as a man, hum- 
bled Himself, and became obedient unto death, and that the 
death of the cross: wherefore God exalted Him from the 
dead and gave Him a name above every name, that at the 
name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, 
and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that 
every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is 
in the Glory of God the Father;^ those books have not. 
For that before all times and above all times Thy Only- 
Begotten Son remaineth unchangeable, c Q-eternal with Thee, 
and that of His fulness souls receive,^* that they may be 
blessed; and that by participation of wisdom abiding in them, 
they are renewed, so as to be wise, is there. But that in 
due time He died for the ungodly ;^^ and that Thou sparedst 
not Thine Only Son, but deliveredst Him for us all^ is not 
there. For Thou hiddest these things from the wise, and 
revealedst them to babes; that they that labour and are heavy 
laden might come unto Him, and He refresh them, because 
He is meek and lowty in hear);^" and the meek He directeth 
in judgment, and the genJle He teacheth His ways^ behold- 
ing our loneliness and trouble, and forgiving all our sins!^ 
But such as are lifted up in the lofty walk of some would-be 
sublimer learning, hear not Him, saying, Learn of Me, for 
I am m£ek andMuidy_in_jLeai:_t, and ye shall find rest to your 
souls.^ AltKough they knew God, yet they glorify Him not 
as God, nor are thankful, but wax vain in their thoughts; 
and their foolish heart is darkened; professing that they were 
wise, they became fools.^ 

And therefore did I read there also, that they had changed 
the glory of Thy incorruptible nature into idols and divers 
shapes, into the likeness of the image of corruptible man, and 
birds, and beasts, and creeping things;"*' namely, into that 
Egyptian food for which Esau lost his birthright,'^ for that 
Thy first-born people worshipped the head of a four-footed 
beast instead of Theef* turning in heart back towards Egypt; 
and bowing Thy image, their own soul, before the image of a 

"Phil. ii. 6-II. "John i. 1 6. " Rom. v. 6. i» /fc. viii. 32. 

i»Matt. xi. 25, 28, 29. 20 ps. XXV. 9. 2175, jg. 22 Matt. xi. 29. 

2* Rom. 1. 21, 22. " Rom. i. 23. ^ Gen. xxv. 33, 34. 
*• Ex. xxxii. 1-6. 



114 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

calf that eatcth hay." These things found I here, but I fed 
not on them. For it pleased Thee, O Lord, to take away 
the reproach of diminution from Jacob, that the elder should 
serve the younger:^ and Thou calledst the Gentiles into 
Thine inheritance. And I had come to Thee from among 
the Gentiles; and I set my mind upon the gold which Thou 
willedst Thy people to take from Egypt, seeing Thine it was, 
wheresoever it were."" And to the Athenians Thou saidst 
by Thy Apostle, that in Thee we live, move, and have our 
being, as one of their own poets had said*" And verily 
these books came from thence. But I set not my mind on the 
idols of Egypt, whom they served with Thy gold^ who 
changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and 
served the creature more than the Creator^ 

And being thence admonished to return to myself, I en- 
tered even into my inward self. Thou being my Guide: and 
able I was, for Thou wert become my Helper. And I entere d 
a nd hph "^^ w'^^ ^^" '"y^ C^ "^y ""^"^ (ciii>Vi no if TTTog i ^jhn-i^f 
th &, same eye of my snnl ahny r my mind, thn T ij xjit U nch an ge- 
^j gle. No t this ordinary light, which all flesh may^ook upuir, 
nor as It yj^ft a ^leuitJl uf tlit muil k i nd) ao though th e 
brightness of this should be manifold brighter, and with its 
greatness take up all space. Not such was this light, but 
other, yea, far other from all these. Nor was it above my 
soul, as oil is above water, nor yet as heaven above earth: 
but above to my soul, because It made me; and I below It, 
because I was made by it. He that knows the Truth, knows 
what that Light is; and he that knows It, knows eternity. 
Love knoweth it. O Truth Who art Eternity ! and Love Who 
art Truth ! and Eternity Who art Love ! Thou art my God, 
to Thee do I sigh night and day. Thee when I first knew. 
Thou liftedst me up, that I might see there was what I might 
see, and that I was not yet such as to see. And Thou didst 
beat back the weakness of my sight, streaming forth Thy 
beams of light upon me most strongly, and I trembled with 
love and awe : and I perceived myself to be far off from Thee, 
in the region of unlikeness, as if I heard this Thy voice from 
OH high: "I am the food of grown men; and thou shalt 

•^Ps. cvi. 20. *Rom. ix. 13. •Ex. in. 22; xi. 2. 

30 Acts xvii. 28. » H06. il 8. «" Rom. i. 35. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 115 

feed upon Me; nor shalt thou convert Me, like the food of 
thv flesh, into thee, but thou shalt be converted into Me." 
And I learned, that Thou for iniquity chastenest man, and 
Thou madest my soul to consume away like a spider.'^ And 
I said, " Is Truth therefore nothing because it is not diffused 
through space finite or infinite?" And Thou criedst to me 
from afar: " Yea, verily, I AM that I AM.'' ^ And I heard, 
as the heart heareth, noi>hSd 1 room to doubt, and I should 
sooner doubt that I live than that Truth is not, which is 
clearly seen, being understood by those things which are 
made.^ 

And I beheld the other things below Thee, and I^ per- 
c eived thaX JJi£i_neit her altogether are, nor altog ether are__ 
not, for the y are, smce they are from ihee, but are not^ 
b ecause they are not, what Thou art. For that truly is 
which remains~linchangeabiy. It ts good then for me to 
hold fast unto Godf^ for if I remain not in Him, I cannot 
in myself; but He remaining in Himself, reneweth all 
things.^'' And Thou art the Lord my God since Thou stand- 
est not in need of my goodness.^ 

And it was manifested unto me, that those things be good 
which yet are corrupted ; which neither were they sovereignly 
good, nor unless they were good could be corrupted: for if 
sovereignly good, they were incorruptible, if not good at all, 
there were nothing in them to be corrupted. For corruption! 
injures, but unless it diminished goodness, it could not injure.! 
Either then corruption injures not, which cannot be ; or 
which is most certain, aU w|^iVV| i's cor rupted is deprived of 
good. But if they be deprived of all^6o3, they Shall cease 
toBS: For if they shall be, and can now no longer be cor 
rupted, they shall be better than before, because they shall 
abide incorruptibly. And what more monstrous than to affirm 
things to become better by losing all their good? There- 
fore, if they shall be deprived of all good, they shall no 
longer be. So long therefore as they are, they are goodj 
therefore whatsoever is, is good. That evil then which J 
sought, whence it is, is not my substance: for were it a sub- 
stance, it should be good. For either it should be an incor- 






Ts. xxxix. 11. 


^ Exod. iii. 14. 


*5 Rom. i. 20 


3»Ps. lxxiii."28. 


*^ Wisd. vii. 27. 


38 Ps. xvi. I. 



116 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

' ruptible substance, and so a chief good: or a corrupt- 
ible substance; which unless it were good, could not 
be corrupted. I perceived therefore, and it was manifested 
to me that Thou madest all things good, nor is there any 
substance at all, which Thou madest not ; and for that Thou 
madest not all things equal, therefore are all things ; because 
each is good, and altogether very good, because our God 
made all things very good.^ 

And to Thee is nothing whatsoever evil: yea, not only to 
Thee, but also to Thy creation as a whole, because there 
is nothing without, which may break in, and corrupt that 
order which Thou hast appointed it. B ^t in the parts there- 
of some thi ngs, because unharmonising^ wit h other some, are 
ac counted evil^ w hereas those very things har monisewith 
o tliers. and ar e good; and in themselves are good, ^ind 
all these things" Which harmonise not altogether, do yet with 
the inferior part, which we call Earth, having its own cloudy 
and windy sky harmonising with it. Far be it then that I 
should say, " These things should not be : " for should I see 
nought but these, I should indeed long for the better; but 
still must even for these alone praise Thee; for that Thou 
art to be praised, do show from the earth, dragons, and all 
deeps, fire, hail, snow, ice, and stormy wind which fulfil 
Thy word; mountains and all hills, fruitful trees, and all 
cedars; beasts, and all cattle, creeping things, and flying 
fowls; kings of the earth, and all people, princes, and all 
judges of the earth; young men and maidens, old men and 
young, praise Thy Name. But when, from heaven, these 
praise Thee, praise Thee, our God, in the heights, all Thy 
angels, all Thy hosts, sun and moon, all the stars and light, 
the Heaven of heavens, and the waters that be above the 
heavens, praise Thy Name;"' I did not now long for things 
better because I conceived of all : and with a sounder judg- 
ment I apprehended that the things above were better than 
these below, but all together better than those above by 
themselves. Z. 

There is no soundness in them, whom aught of Thy cre- 
ation displeaseth: as neither in me, when much which Thou 
hast made, displeased me. And because my soul durst not 
*Gcn, L 31; Eccli. xxxix. 21. "Ps. cxlviii. i-ii. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 117 

be displeased at my God, it would fain not account that 
Thine, which displeased it. Hence it had gone into the 
opinion of two substances, and had no rest, but talked idly. 
And returning thence, it had made to itself a God, through in- 
finite measures of all space; and thought it to be Thee, and 
placed it in its heart; and had again become the temple of 
its own idol, to Thee abominable. But after Thou hadst 
soothed my head, unknown to me, and closed mine eyes that 
they should not behold vanity,*^ I ceased somewhat of my 
former self, and my frenzy was lulled to sleep; and I awoke 
in Thee, and saw Thee infinite, but in another way, and 
this sight was not derived from the flesh. 

And I looked back on other things; and I saw that they 
owed their being to Thee; and were all bounded in Thee: 
but in a different way ; not as being in space ; but because 
Thou containest all things in Thine hand in Thy Truth; 
and all things are true so far as they be; nor is there any 
falsehood unless when that is thought to be, which is not. 
And I saw that all things did harmonise, not with their 
places only, but with their seasons. And that Thou, who 
only art Eternal, didst not begin to work after innumerable 
spaces of times spent ; for that all spaces of times, both which 
have passed, and which shall pass, neither go nor come, but 
through Thee, working, and abiding. 

And I perceived and found it nothing strange, that bread 
which is pleasant to a healthy palate is loathsome to one 
distempered : and to sore eyes light is offensive, which to the 
sound is delightful. And Thy righteousness displeaseth the 
wicked; much more the viper and reptiles, which Thou hast 
created good, fitting in with the inferior portions of Thy 
Creation, with which the very wicked also fit in; and that 
the more, by how much they be unlike Thee; but with the 
superior creatures by how much they become more like to 
Thee. And I enquired what iniquity was, and found it 
t o be no substance, but the perversion o f^e will, turned I 
^side trom I'hee. O God, the Isupreme, tow afTfe^-tftesef 
Ipwer tnmg s. and casting out its bowels, and pujied up out-| 
wardly. 

And I wondered that I now loved Thee, and no phantasm 

*^ Ps. cxix. 37. 



118 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

for Thee. And yet did I not press on to enjoy my Ciod; 
but was borne up to Thee by Thy beauty, and soon borne 
down from Thee by mine own weight, sinking with sorrow 
into these inferior things. This weight was carnal custom. 
Y3t dwelt there with me a remembrance of Thee ; nor did I 
any way doubt that there was One to whom I might cleave, 
but that I was not yet such as to cleave to Thee: for that 
the body which is corrupted presseth down the soul, and the 
earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon 
many things." And most certain I was, that Thy invisible 
works from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being 
understood by the things that are made, even Thy eternal 
power and Godhead.*^ For examining whence it was that I 
admired the beauty of bodies celestial or terrestrial ; and what 
aided me in judging soundly on things mutable, and pro- 
nouncing, "This ought to be thus, this not;" examining, 
I say, whence it was that I so judged, seeing I did so judge, 
I had found the unchangeable and true Eternity of Truth 
above my ^hangeaBTe^^min^. JAnd thu s" by degrees I passed 
from bodiei~to~TTTe^fni T7'which through the bodily senses per- 
ceives; and thence to its i pward faculty , to which the bodily 
senses represent things external, whitherto reach the faculties 
of beasts ; and thence again to the rea^o mpg faculty, to which 
what is received from the senses ^ the body is referred to 
be judged. Which finding itself also to be in me a thing 
variable, raised itself up to its own understanding, and drew 
away my thoughts from the power of habit, withdrawing 
itself from those troops ^f contradictory phantasms: that 
so it might find what that light was whereby it was bedewed, 
when, without all doubting, it cried out, "That the un- 
changeable was to be preferred to the changeable : " whence 
also it knew That Unchangeable, which, unless it had in some 
way known, it had had no sure ground to prefer it to the 
changeable. And thus with the flash of one trembling glance 
it arrived at That Which Is. And then I saw Thy m- 
visible things middmddd bV the things which are made.** 
But I could not fix my gaze thereon ; and my infirmity being 
struck back, I was thrown again on my wonted habits, carry- 
ing along with me only a loving memory thereof, and a 

« Wisd. ix. IS. *» Rom. i. 20. ** Rom. i. 20. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 119 

longing for what I had, as it were, perceived the odour of, 
but was not yet able to feed on. 

Then I sought a way of obtaining strength sufficient to 
enjoy Thee; and found it not, until I embraced that Mediat^ 
betwixt God and men, the Man Christ Jcsus,^ who is ovW 
all, God blessed for evermore,^ calling unto me, and saying, 
/ am the zvay, the truth, and the life," and mingling that 
food which I was unable to receive, with our flesh. For, the 
Word was made flesh,^ that Thy wisdom, whereby Thou 
createdst all things, might provide milk for our infant state. 
For I did not hold to my Lord Jesus Christ, I, humbled, to 
the humble; nor knew I yet whereto His infirmity would 
guide us. For Thy Word, the Eternal Truth, far^bove the 
higher parts of Thy Creation, raises up the subdued unto 
Itself: but in this lower world built for Itself a lowly habi- 
tation of our clay, whereby to abase from themselves such as 
would be subdued, and bring them over to Himself; allaying 
their swelling, and fomenting their love; to the end they 
might go on no further in self-confidence, but rather consent 
to become weak, seeing before their feet the Divinity weak 
by taking our coats of skin;*^ and wearied, might cast them- 
selves down upon It, and It rising, might lift them up. 

But I thought otherwise; conceiving only of my Lord 
Christ as of a man of excellent wisdom, whom no one could 
be equalled unto ; especially, for that being wonderfully born 
of a Virgin, He seemed, in conformity therewith, through 
the Divine care for us, to have attained that great eminence 
of authority, for an ensample of despising things temporal 
for the obtaining of immortality. But what mystery there 
lay in "The Word was made flesh," I could not even imagine. 
Only I had learnt out of what is delivered to us in writing of 
Him that He did eat, and drink, sleep, walk, rejoiced in 
spirit, was sorrowful, discoursed; that flesh did not cleave 
by itself unto Thy Word but with the human soul and mind. 
All know this who know the unchangeableness of Thy Word, 
which I now knew, as far as I could, nor did I at all doubt 
thereof. For, now to move the limbs of the body by will^ 
now not, now to be moved by some affectiOfl, nowlibt, now 

** I Tim. ii. 5. ** Rom. ix. 5. *'' John xiv. 6. 

**John i. 14. "Gen. iii. 21. 



120 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

to deliver wise sayings through human signs, now to keep 
silence, belong to soul and mind subject to variation. And 
should these things be falsely written of Him, all the rest 
also would risk the charge, nor would there remain in those 
books any saving faith for mankind. Since then they were 
written truly, I acknowledged a perfect man to be in Christ ; 
not the body of a man only, nor, with the body, a sensitive 
soul without a rational, but very man ; whom, not only as 
being a form of Truth, but for a certain great excellency of 
human nature and a more perfect participation of wisdom, 
' I judged to be preferred before others. But Alypius im- 
agined the Catholics to believe God to be so clothed with 
flesh, that besides God and flesh, there was no soul at all 
in Christ, and did not think that a human mind was ascribed 
to him. And because he was well persuaded that the actions 
recorded of Him could only be performed by a vital and a 
rational creature, he moved the more slowly towards the 
Christian Faith. But understanding afterwards that this 
was the error of the Apollinarian heretics, he joyed in and 
was conformed to the Catholic Faith. But somewhat later, 
I confess, did I learn how in that saying. The Word was 
made flesh, the Catholic Truth is distinguished from the false- 
hood of Photinus. For the rejection of heretics makes the 
tenets of Thy Church and sound doctrine to stand out more 
clearly. For there must also he heresies, that the approved 
may he made manifest among the weak^" 

But having then read those books of the Platonists, and 
thence been taught to search for inco rporea l truth, Ija^f- 
Thy invisihle things, understood by those tlimgs'wJnch are 
made;^ and though cast back, I perceived^ wjiaL-lliat__was^ 
which through the darkness of my mind! was hindered from 
contemplating, being assured, " That Thou wert, and wert in- 
finite, and yet not diffused in space, finite or infinite ; and that 
Thou truly art who art the same ever, in no part nor motion 
varying; and that all other things are from Thee, on this 
most sure ground alone, that they are." Of these things 
I was assured, yet too unsure to enjoy Thee. I prated as 
one well skilled ; but had I not sought Thy way in Christ our 
Saviour, I had proved to be, not skilled, but killed. For now 

" 1 Cor. xi. 19. ^ Rom. i. ao. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 121 

I had begun to wish to seem wise, being filled with mine own 
punishment, yet I did not mourn, but rather scorn, puffed 
up with knowledge." For where was that charity building 
upon the foundation of humility, which is Christ Jesus f^ or 
when should these books teach me it? Upon these, I be- 
lieve. Thou therefore willedst that I should fall, before I 
studied Thy Scriptures, that it might be imprinted on my 
memory how I was affected by them; and that afterwards 
when my spirits were tamed through Thy books, and my 
wounds touched by Thy healing fingers, I might discern 
and distinguish between presumption and confession; 
between those who saw whither they were to go, yet 
saw not the way, and the way that leadeth not to 
behold only but to dwell in the beatific country. For 
had I first been formed in Thy Holy Scriptures, and hadst 
Thou in the familiar use of them grown sweet unto me, and 
had I then fallen upon those other volumes, they might per- 
haps have withdrawn me from the solid ground of piety, 
or, had I continued in that healthful frame which I had 
thence imbibed, I might have thought that it might have been 
obtained by the study of those books alone. 

Most eagerly then did I seize that venerable writing of 
Thy Spirit : and chiefly the Apostle Paul. Whereupon those 
difficulties vanished away, wherein he once seemed to me 
to contradict himself, and the text of his discourse not to 
agree with the testimonies of the Law and the Prophets. 
And the face of that pure word appeared to me one and the 
same ; and I learned to rejoice with trembling?* So I began ; 
and whatsoever truth I had read in those other books, I 
found here amid the praise of Thy Grace; that whoso sees, 
may not so glory as if he had not received^^ not only what 
he sees, but also that he sees {for what hath he, which he 
hath not received?), and that he may be not only admon- 
ished to behold Thee, Who art ever the same, hut also healed, 
to hold Thee, and that he who cannot see afar oif, may yet 
walk on the way, whereby he may arrive, and behold, and 
hold Thee. For, though a man he delighted with the law of 
God after the/inner manf^ what shall he do with that other 

"i Cor. viii. i. ^ Ibid. iii. ii. ^ Ps. ii. ii. 
** I Cor. iv. 7. " Rom. vii. 22, 



122 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

law in his members which warreth against the law of his 
mind, and bringeth him into captivity to the law of sin which 
is in his members?^'' For, Thou art righteous, O Lord, but 
we have sinned and committed iniquity, and have done 
wickedly,^ and Thy hand is grown heavy upon us, and we arc 
justly delivered over unto that ancient sinner, the king of 
death; because he persuaded our will to be like his will, 
whereby he abode not in Thy truth. What shall wretched 
man do? who shall deliver him from the body of this death, 
but only Thy Grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord,^ whom 
, Thou hast begotten co-eternal, and formedst in the beginning 
of Thy ways,^ in whom the prince of this zvorld found noth- 
ing worthy of death,^"^ yet killed he Him; and the hand- 
writing, which was contrary to us, was blotted outf^ This 
those writings contain not. Those pages present not the 
image of this piety, the tears of confession, Thy sacrifice, a 
troubled spirit, a broken and a contrite hearty the salvation 
of the people, the Bridal City^ the earnest of the Holy 
Ghost,'^ the Cup of our Redemption^ No man sings there. 
Shall not my soul be submitted unto God? for of Him cometh 
my salvation. For He is my God and my salvation, my 
guardian, I shall no more be moved!" No one there hears 
Him call, Come unto Me, all ye that labour.'^ They scorn 
to learn of Him, because He is meek and lowly in heart; for 
these things hast Thou hid from the wise and prudent, and 
hast revealed them unto babes.'" For it is one thing, from 
the mountain's shaggy top to see the land of peace, and to 
find no way thither ;™ and in vain to essay through ways un- 
passable, opposed and beset by fugitives and deserters, under 
their captain the lion and the dragon : and another to keep on 
the way that leads thither, guarded by the host of the heavenly 
General; where they spoil not who have deserted the 
heavenly army; for they avoid it, as very torment. These 
things did wonderfully sink into my bowels, when I read 
that least of Thy Apostles^ and had meditated upon Thy 
works, and trembled exceedingly. 

" Rom. vii. 23. " Song of the Three Children, 4 et seq. =• Rom. vii. 24. 

<»Prov. viii. 22. "John xiv. 30. "» Col. ii. 14- ** Ps. H. 17. 

«* Rev xxi. 3. «2 Cor. v. 5. •• Ps. cxvi. 13. " Ps. IxiL i, 2. 

«• Matt. xi. 28. •• Ver. 29. ■" Deut. xxxii. 49. " 1 Cor. xv. 9. 



THE EIGHTH BOOK 

Augustine's thirty-second year. He consults Simplicianus : from him 
hears the history of the conversion of Victorinus, and longs to 
devote himself entirely to God, but is mastered by his old habits ; 
is still further roused by the history of St. Antony, and the 
conversion of two courtiers ; during a severe struggle hears a 
voice from heaven, opens Scripture, and is converted, with his 
friend Alypius. His mother's vision fulfilled 

OMY God, let me, with thanksgiving, remember, and 
confess unto Thee Thy mercies on me. Let my hones 
be bedewed with Thy love, and let them say unto 
Thee, Who is like unto Thee, O Lord?^ Thou hast broken 
my bonds in sunder, I will offer unto Thee the sacrifice of 
thanksgiving.^ And how Thou hast broken them, I will 
declare; and all who worship Thee, when they hear this, 
shall say, " Blessed be the Lord in heaven and in earth, 
great and wonderful is His name." Thy words had stuck 
fast in my heart, and / was hedged round about on all sides 
by Thee!" Of Thy eternal life I was now certain, though 
I saw it in a figure and as through a glass.* Yet I had ceased 
to doubt that there was an incorruptible substance, whence 
was all other substance; nor did I now desire to be more 
certain of Thee, but more steadfast in Thee. \But for my 
temporal life, all was wavering, and my heart had to be 
purged from the old leaven.^ The Way^ the Saviour Him- 
self, well pleased me, but as yet I shrunk from going through 
its straitness. And Thou didst put into my mind, and it 
seemed good in my eyes, to go to Simplicianus, who seemed 
to me a good servant of Thine; and Thy grace shone in 
him. I had heard also that from his very youth he had 
lived most devoted unto Thee. Now he was grown into 

'^ Ps. XXXV. 10. ' Ps. cxvi. i6, 17. 'Job. i. 10. 

* I Cor. xiii, 12. ^ 1 Cor. v. 7. •John xiv. 6. 

123 



124 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

years; and by reason o£ so great age spent in such zealous 
following of Thy ways, he seemed to me likely to have 
learned much experience; and so he had. Out of which 
store I wished that he would tell me (setting before him my 
anxieties) which were the fittest way for one in my case 
to walk in Thy paths. 

For, I saw the church full; and one went this way, and 
another that way. But I was displeased that I led a secular 
life; yea now that my desires no longer inflamed me, as 
of old, with hopes of honour and profit, a very grievous 
burden it was to undergo so heavy a bondage. For, in com- 
parison of Thy sweetness, and the beauty of Thy house 
which I loved,'' those things delighted me no longer. But 
still ft was enthralled with the love of woman ; nor did the 
Apostle forbid me to marry, although he advised me to some- 
thing better, chiefly wishing that all men were as himself 
was.^ But I being weak, chose the more indulgent place; 
and because of this alone, was tossed up and down in all 
beside, faint and wasted with withering cares, because in 
other matters I was constrained against my will to conform 
myself to a married life, to which I was given up and en- 
thralled. I had heard from the mouth of the Truth, that 
there were some eunuchs which had made themselves eu- 
nuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake: hut, saith He, let 
him zvho can receive it, receive it' Surely vain are all men 
tvho arc ignorant of God, and could not out of the good 
things which are seen, find out Him who is good.^^ But I 
was no longer in that vanity; I had surmounted it; and by 
the common witness of all Thy creatures had found Thee 
our Creator, and Thy Word, God with Thee, and together 
with Thee one God, by whom Thou createdst all things. 
There is yet another kind of ungodly, who knowing God, 
glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful.^ Into 
this also I had fallen, but Thy right hand upheld me^ and 
took me thence, and Thou placedst me where I might re- 
cover. For Thou hast said unto man. Behold, the fear of the 
Lord is wisdom,^* and, Desire not to seem ztnse;^* because 
they who affirmed themselves to he wise, hecame fools.^ But 

» Ps xxxvi. 8. • I Cor. vii. 8. " Matt. xix. la. *" Wisd. xiii. i. 
"Rom. i. 21. "Ps. xviii. 35- "Job. xxviii. 28. " Prov. iii. 7. 
u&om. L 23. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 125 

I had now found the goodly pearl, which selling all that 
I had^^ I ought to have bought, and I hesitated. 

To Simplicianus then I went, the father of Ambrose (a 
Bishop now) in receiving Thy grace, and whom Ambrose 
truly loved as a father. To him I related the mazes of my 
wanderings. But when I mentioned that I had read certain 
books of the Platonists, which Victorinus, sometime Rhetoric 
Professor of Rome (who had died a Christian, as I had 
heard), had translated into Latin, he testified his joy that 
I had not fallen upon the writings of other philosophers, 
full of fallacies and deceits, after the rudiments of this 
•world" whereas the Platonists many ways led to the belief 
in God and His Word. Then to exhort me to the humility 
of Christ, hidden from the wise, and revealed to little ones,^ 
he spoke of Victorinus himself, whom while at Rome he had 
most intimately known: and of him he related what I will 
not conceal. For it contains great praise of Thy grace, to 
be confessed unto Thee, how that aged man, most learned 
and skilled in the liberal sciences, and who had read, and 
weighed so many works of the philosophers; the instructor 
of so many noble Senators, who also, as a monument of his 
excellent discharge of his office, had (which men of this 
world esteem a high honour) both deserved and obtained 
a statue in the Roman Forum; he, to that age a worshipper 
of idols, and a partaker of the sacrilegious rites, to which 
almost all the nobility of Rome were given up, and had in- 
spired the people with the love of 

" Anubis, barking Deity, and all 
The monster Gods of every kind, who fought 
'Gainst Neptune, Venus, and Minerva" : 

whom Rome once conquered, now adored, all which the 
aged Victorinus had with thundering eloquence so many 
years defended; — he now blushed not to be the child of Thy 
Christ, and the new-born babe of Thy fountain; submitting 
his neck to the yoke of humility, and subduing his forehead 
to the reproach of the Cross. 

O Lord, Lord, Which hast bowed the heavens and come 
down, touched the mountains and they did smoke,^' by what 

" Matt. xiii. 46. " Col. ii. 8. ^ Matt. xi. 25. " Ps. cxliv. 5. 



126 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

means didst Thou convey Thyself into that breast? He 
used to read (as SimpHcianus said) the holy Scripture, most 
studiously sought and searched into all the Christian writ- 
ings, and said to SimpHcianus (not openly, but privately and 
as a friend), "Understand that I am already a Christian." 
Whereto he answered, " I will not believe it, nor will I rank 
you among Christians, unless I see you in the Church of 
Christ." The other, in banter replied, " Do walls then make 
Christians ? " And this he often said, that he was already 
a Christian; and SimpHcianus as often made the same 
answer, and the conceit of the " walls " was by the other 
as often renewed. For he feared to offend his friends, proud 
daemon worshippers, from the height of whose Babylonian 
dignity, as from cedars of Libanus^ which the Lord had not 
yet broken down, he supposed the weight of enmity would 
fall upon him. But after that by reading and earnest thought 
he had gathered firmness, and feared to be denied by Christ 
before the holy angels, should he now be afraid to confess 
Him before men^ and appeared to himself guilty of a heavy 
offence, in being ashamed of the Sacraments of the humility 
of Thy Word, and not being ashamed of the sacrilegious 
rites of those proud daemons, whose pride he had imitated 
and their rites adopted, he became bold-faced against vanity, 
and shame-faced towards the truth, and suddenly and unex- 
pectedly said to SimpHcianus (as himself told me), "Go 
we to the Church; I wish to be made a Christian." But he, 
not containing himself for joy, went with him. And having 
been admitted to the first Sacrament and become a Catechu- 
men, not long after he further gave in his name, that he 
might be regenerated by baptism, Rome wondering, the 
Church, rejoicing. The proud saw, and were wroth; they 
gnashed with their teeth, and melted awayJ^ But the Lord 
God was the hope of Thy servant, and he regarded not van- 
ities and lying madness.** 

To conclude, when the hour was come for making profes- 
sion of his faith (which at Rome they, who are about to 
approach to Thy grace, deliver, from an elevated place, in 
the sight of all the faithful, in a set form of words committed 
to memory), the presbyters, he said, offered Victorinus (as 

* Ps. xxjx. s. ** Luke ix. 26. ^ Ps. cxii. 10. *" Ps. xxxi. 6, 40, etc. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 127 

was done to such as seemed likely through bashfulness to be 
alarmed) to make his profession more privately: but he 
chose rather to profess his salvation in the presence of 
the holy multitude. " For it was not salvation that he 
taught in rhetoric, and yet that he had publicly professed: 
how much less then ought he, when pronouncing Thy word, 
to dread Thy meek flock, who, when delivering his own 
words, had not feared a mad multitude ! " When, then, he 
went up to make his profession, all, as they knew him, whis- 
pered his name one to another with the voice of congratula- 
tion. And who there knew him not? and there ran a low 
murmur through all the mouths of the rejoicing multitude, 
Victorinus ! Victorinus ! Sudden was the burst of rapture, 
that they saw him ; suddenly were they hushed that they 
might hear him. He pronounced the true faith with an ex- 
cellent boldness, and all wished to draw him into their very 
heart: yea by their love and joy they drew him thither, such 
were the hands wherewith they drew him. 

Good God I what takes place in man that he should more 
rejoice at the salvation of a soul despaired of, and freed 
from greater peril, than if there had always been hope of 
him, or the danger had been less? For so Thou also, mer- 
ciful Father, dost more rejoice over one penitent than over 
ninety-nine just persons that need no repentance?* And 
with much joy fulness do we hear, so often as we hear with 
what joy the sheep which had strayed is brought hack upon 
the shepherd's shoulder, and the groat is restored to Thy 
treasury, the neighbours rejoicing with the woman who 
found it;^ and the joy of the solemn service of Thy house 
forceth to tears, when in Thy house it is read of Thy younger 
son, that he was dead, and liveth again; had been lost, and 
is found. For Thou rejoicest in us, and in Thy holy angels, 
holy through holy charity. For Thou art ever the same ; for 
all things which abide not the same nor for ever, Thou for 
ever knowest in the same way. 

What then takes place in the soul, when it is more de- 
lighted at finding or recovering the things it loves, than if it 
had ever had them ? yea, and other things witness hereunto ; 
and all things are full of witnesses, crying out, " So is it." 

^^ Luke XV. 7. »« Ver. 5-9. 



128 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

The conquering commander triumphant; yet had he not 
conquered unless he had fought; and the more peril there 
was in the battle, so much the more joy is there in the 
triumph. The storm tosses the sailors, threatens shipwreck; 
all wax pale at approaching death; sky and sea are calmed, 
and they are exceedingly joyed, as having been exceeding 
afraid. A friend is sick, and his pulse threatens danger; all 
who long for his recovery are sick in mind with him. He is 
restored, though as yet he walks not with his former 
strength; yet there is such joy, as was not, when before he 
walked sound and strong. Yea, the very pleasures of human 
life men acquire by diflficulties, not those only which fall upon 
us unlooked for, and against our wills, but even by self- 
chosen, and pleasure-seeking trouble. Eating and drinking 
have no pleasure, unless there precede the pinching of 
hunger and thirst. Men, given to drink, eat certain salt 
meats, to procure a troublesome heat, which the drink al- 
laying, causes pleasure. It is also ordered that the affianced 
bride should not at once be given, lest as a husband 
he should hold cheap whom, as betrothed, he sighed not 
after. 

This law holds in foul and accursed joy ; this in permitted 
and lawful joy; this in the very purest perfection of friend- 
ship; this, in him who was dead, and lived again; had been 
lost and zvas found. Every where the greater joy is ushered 
', in by the greater pain. What means this, O Lord my God, 
^ whereas Thou art everlastingly joy to Thyself, and some 
things around Thee evermore rejoice in Thee? What means 
this, that this portion of things thus ebbs and flows alter- 
nately displeased and reconciled? Is this their allotted 
measure? Is this all Thou hast assigned to them, whereas 
from the highest heavens to the lowest earth, from the be- 
ginning of the world to the end of ages, from the angel to 
the worm, from the first motion to the last. Thou settest 
each in its place, and realisest each in their season, every 
thing good after its kind? Woe is me! how high art Thou 
in the highest, and how deep in the deepest ! and Thou never 
departest, and we scarcely return to Thee. 

Up, Lord, and do; stir us up, and recall us; kindle and 
draw us; inflame, grow sweet unto us; let us now love, let 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 129 

us riinr' Do not many, out of a deeper hell of blindness than 
Victorinus, return to Thee, approach, and are enlightened, 
receiving that Light, which they who receive, receive power 
from Thee to become Thy sons?"" But if they be less known 
to the nations, even they that know them, jby less for them. 
For when many joy together, each also has more exuberant 
joy ; for that they are kindled and inflamed one by the other. 
Again, because those known to many, influence the more 
towards salvation, and lead the way with many to follow. 
And therefore do they also who preceded them much rejoice 
not in them, because they rejoice not in them alone. For 
far be it, that in Thy tabernacle the persons of the 
rich should be accepted before the poor, or the noble 
before the ignoble; seeing rather Thou hast chosen the 
weak things of the world to confound the strong; and 
the base things of this world, and the things despised hast 
Thou chosen, and those things which are not, that Thou 
mightest bring to nought things that are^ And yet even 
that least of Thy apostles^ by whose tongue Thou soundedest 
forth these words, when through his warfare, Paulus the 
Proconsul, his pride conquered, was made to pass under the 
easy yoke of Thy Christ, and became a provincial of the 
great King; he also for his former name Saul, was pleased 
to be called Paul, in testimony of so great a victory. For 
the enemy is more overcome in one, of whom he hath more 
hold; by whom he hath hold of more. But the proud he 
hath more hold of, through their nobility; and by them, 
of more through their authority. By how much the more 
welcome then the heart of Victorinus was esteemed, which 
the devil had held as an impregnable possession, the tongue 
of Victorinus, with which mighty and keen weapon he had 
slain many; so much the more abundantly ought Thy sons 
to rejoice, for that our King hath bound the strong man,^ 
and they saw his vessels taken from htm and cleansed, and 
made meet for Thy honour;^ and become serviceable for the 
Lord, unto every good work.^ 

But when that man of Thine, Simplicianus, related to me 
this of Victorinus, I was on fire to imitate him; for for this 



i 



""Cant. i. 4- ^ John i. 12. =8 1 Cor. i. 27, 28. ^ i Cor. xv. 9. 
*> Matt. xii. 29. ^Luke xi. 22, 25. *»Tim. ii. 21. 
5— HC VII 



130 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

very end had he related it. But when he had subjoined 
also, how in the days of the Emperor Julian a law was made, 
whereby Christians were forbidden to teach the liberal 
sciences or oratory; and how he, obeying this law, chose 
rather to give over the wordy school than Thy Word, by 
which Thou makest eloquent the tongues of the dumbf^ he 
seemed to me not more resolute than blessed, in having thus 
found opportunity to wait on Thee only. Which thing I was 
sighing for, bound as I was, not with another's irons, but 
by my own iron will. My will the enemy held, and thence 
had made a chain for me, and bound me. For of a froward 
will, was a lust made; and a lust served, became custom; 
and custom not resisted, became necessity. By which links, 
as it were, joined together (whence I called it a chain) a 
hard bondage held me enthralled. But that new will which 
had begun to be in me, freely to serve Thee, and to wish 
to enjoy Thee, O God, the only assured pleasantness, was 
not yet able to overcome my former wilfulness, strengthened 
by age. Thus did my two wills, one new, and the other old, 
one carnal, the other spiritual, struggle within me; and by 
their discord, undid my soul. 

Thus I understood, by my own experience, what I had 
read, how the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit 
against the flesh.^* Myself verily either way ; yet more 
myself, in that which I approved in myself, than in that 
which in myself I disapproved." For in this last, it was 
now for the more part not myself, because in much I rather 
endured against my will, than acted willingly. And yet it 
was through me, that custom had obtained this power of 
warring against me, because I had come willingly, whither 
I willed not. And who has any right to speak against it, 
if just punishment follow the sinner? Nor had I now any 
longer my former plea, that I therefore as yet hesitated 
to be above the world and serve Thee, for that the truth was 
not altogether ascertained to me; for now it too was. But 
I still under service to the earth, refused to fight under Thy 
banner, and feared as much to be freed of all encumbrances, 
as we should fear to be encumbered with it. Thus with the 
baggage of this present world was I held down pleasantly, 

«Wisd. X. 21. "Gal. v. 17. » Rom. vii. 18. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 131 

as in sleep; and the thoughts wherein I meditated on Thee 
were like the efforts of such as would awake, who yet over- 
come with a heavy drowsiness, are again drenched therein. 
And as no one would sleep for ever, and in all men's sober 
judgment waking is better, yet a man for the most part, feel- 
ing a heavy lethargy in all his limbs, defers to shake off 
sleep, and, though half displeased, yet even, after it is time 
to rise, with pleasure yields to it, so was I assured that 
much better were it for me to give myself up to Thy charity, 
than to give myself over to mine own cupidity; but though 
the former course satisfied me and gained the mastery, the 
latter pleased me and held me mastered. Nor had I any 
thing to answer Thee calling to me, Awake, thou that 
steepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee 
light.^ And when Thou didst on all sides show me that what 
Thou saidst was true, I, convicted by the truth, had nothing 
at all to answer, but only those dull and drowsy words, 
" Anon, anon," " presently," " leave me but a little." But 
" presently, presently," had no present, and my " little while " 
went on for a long while; in vain / delighted in Thy law 
according to the inner man, when another law in my mem- 
bers rebelled against the law of my mind, and led me captive 
under the law of sin which was in my members.^ For the 
law of sin is the violence of custom, whereby the mind is 
drawn and holden, even against its will; but deservedly, for 
that it willingly fell into it. Who then should deliver me 
thus wretched from the body of this death, but Thy grace 
only, through Jesus Christ our Lord?^ 

And how Thou didst deliver me out of the bonds of desire, 
wherewith I was bound most straitly to carnal concupiscence, 
and out of the drudgery of worldly things, I will now de- 
clare, and confess unto Thy name, O Lord, my helper and 
my Redeemer.^ Amid increasing anxiety, I was doing my 
wonted business, and daily sighing unto Thee. I attended 
Thy Church, whenever free from the business under the 
burden of which I groaned. Alypius was with me, now after 
the third sitting released from his law business, and waiting 
to whom to sell his counsel, as I sold the skill of speaking, 
if indeed teaching can impart it. Nebridius had now, in 

•• Eph. V. 14. ^ Rom. vii. 22. ^ Ver. 24, 25. ^9 pg, xjx. 14. 



132 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

consideration of our friendship, consented to teach under 
Verecundus, a citizen and a grammarian of Milan, and a 
very intimate friend of us all ; who urgently desired, and by 
the right of friendship challenged from our company, such 
faithful aid as he greatly needed. Nebridius then was not 
drawn to this by any desire of advantage (for he might have 
made much more of his learning had he so willed), but as 
a most kind and gentle friend, he would not be wanting to 
a good office, and slight our request. But he acted herein 
very discreetly, shunning to become known to personages 
great according to this world, avoiding the distraction of 
mind thence ensuing, and desiring to have it free and at 
leisure, as many hours as might be, to seek, or read, or hear 
something concerning wisdom. 

Upon a day then, Nebridius being absent (I recollect not 
why), lo, there came to see me and Alypius, one Pontitianus, 
our countryman so far as being an African, in high office 
in the Emperor's court. What he would with us, I know 
not, but we sat down to converse, and it happened that upon 
a table for some game, before us, he observed a book, took, 
opened it, and contrary to his expectation, found it the 
Apostle Paul; for he had thought it some of those books 
which I was wearing myself in teaching. Whereat smiling, 
and looking at me, he expressed his joy and wonder that 
he had on a sudden found this book, and this only before 
my eyes. For he was a Christian, and baptised, and often 
bowed himself before Thee our God in the Church, in fre- 
quent and continued prayers. When then I had told him 
that I bestowed very great pains upon those Scriptures, a 
conversation arose (suggested by his account) on Antor»y 
the Egyptian monk; whose name was in high reputation 
among Thy servants, though to that hour unknown to us. 
Which when he discovered, he dwelt the more upon that 
subject, informing and wondering at our ignorance of one 
so eminent. But we stood amazed, hearing Thy wonderful 
works most fully attested, in times so recent, and almost in 
our own, wrought in the true Faith and Church Catholic. 
We all wondered ; we, that they were so great, and he, that 
they had not reached us. 

Thence his discourse turned to the flocks in the monas- 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 133 

teries, and their holy ways, a sweet-smelling savour unto 
Thee, and the fruitful deserts of the wilderness, whereof we 
knew nothing. And there was a monastery at Milan, full 
of good brethren, without the city walls, under the fostering 
care of Ambrose, and we knew it not. He went on with 
his discourse, and we listened in intent silence. He told us 
then how one afternoon at Triers, when the Emperor was 
taken up with the Circensian games, he and three others, 
his companions, went out to walk in gardens near the city 
walls, and there as they happened to walk in pairs, one went 
apart with him, and the other two wandered by themselves; 
and these, in their wanderings, lighted upon a certain cot- 
tage, inhabited by certain of Thy servants, poor in spirit, of 
zvhom is the kingdom of heaven,*' and there they found a 
little book containing the life of Antony. This one of them 
began to read^ admire, and kindle at it ; and as he read, to 
meditate on taking up such a life, and giving over his secular 
service to serve Thee. And these two were of those whom 
they style agents for the public affairs. Then suddenly, filled 
with a holy love, and a sober shame, in anger with himself 
he cast his eyes upon his friend, saying T Tell me, I pray 
thee, what would we attain by all these labours of ours ? what 
aim we at? what serve we for? Can our hopes in court 
rise higher than to be the Emperor's favourites? and in this, 
what is there not brittle, and full of perils ? and by how many 
perils axrive we at a greater peril? and when arrive we 
thither ?J But a friend of God, if I wish it, I become now at 
once." So spake he. And in pain with the travail of a 
new life, he turned his eyes again upon the book, and read 
on, and was changed inwardly, where Thou sawest, -and 
his mind was stripped of the world, as soon appeared. [For 
as he read and rolled up and down the waves of his heart, 
he stormed at himself a while, then discerned, and deter- 
mined on a better course; and now being Thine, said to his 
friend, " Now have I broken loose from those our hopes, and 
am resolved to serve God; and this, from this hour, in this 
place, I begin upom If thou likest not to imitate me, oppose 
not." The other answered, he would cleave to him, to 
partake so glorious a reward, so glorious a service. Thus 

*0Matt. V. 3. 



134 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

both being now Thine, were building the tower at the 
necessary cost, the forsaking all that they had, and following 
Thee.*^ Then Pontitianus and the other with him, that had 
walked in other parts of the garden, came in search of them 
to the same place; and finding them, reminded them to 
return, for the day was now far spent. But they relating 
their resolution and purpose, and how that will was begun 
and settled in them, begged them, if they would not join, 
not to molest them. But the others, though nothing altered 
from their former selves, did yet bewail themselves (as he 
affirmed), and piously congratulated them, recommending 
themselves to their prayers; and so, with hearts lingering 
on the earth, went away to the palace. But the other two, 
fixing their heart on heaven, remained in the cottage. And 
both had affianced brides, who when they heard hereof, also 
dedicated their virginity unto God. 

Such was the story of Pontitianus; but Thou, O Lord, 
while he was speaking, didst turn me round towards myself, 
taking me from behind my back where I had placed me, 
unwilling to observe myself; and setting me before my face, 
that I might see how foul I was, how crooked and defiled, 
bespotted and ulcerous. And I beheld and stood aghast ; and 
whither to flee from myself I found not. And if I sought 
to turn mine eye from off myself, he went on with his re- 
lation, and Thou again didst set me over against myself, and 
thrustedst me before my eyes, that / might find out mine 
iniquity, and hate it.*' I had known it, but made as though 
I saw it not, winked at it, and forgot it. 

But now, the more ardently I loved those whose healthful 
affections I heard of, that they had resigned themselves 
wholly to Thee to be cured, the more did I abhor myself, 
when compared with them. For many of my years (some 
twelve) had now run out with me since my nineteenth, when, 
upon the reading of Cicero's Hortensius, I was stirred to an 
earnest love of wisdom; and still I was deferring to reject 
mere earthly felicity, and give myself to search out that, 
whereof not the finding only, but the very search, was to be 
preferred to the treasures and kingdoms of the world, though 
already found, and to the pleasures of the body, though spread 

" Luke xiv. 26-35. " Ps- xxxvi. 2. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 135 

around me at my will. But I wretched, most wretched, in 
the very commencement of my early youth, had begged 
chastity of Thee, and said, " Give me chastity and continency, 
only not yet." For I feared lest Thou shouldest hear me 
soon, and soon cure me of the disease of concupiscence, 
which I wished to have satisfied, rather than extinguished. 
And I had wandered through crooked ways in a sacrilegious 
superstition, not indeed assured thereof, but as preferring it 
to the others which I did not seek religiously, but opposed 
maliciously. 

I had thought that I therefore deferred from day to day 
to reject the hopes of this world, and follow Thee only, be- 
cause there did not appear aught certain, whither to direct 
my course. And now was the day come wherein I was to 
be laid bare to myself, and my conscience was to upbraid me. 
" Where art thou now, my tongue ? Thou saidst that for 
an uncertain truth thou likedst not to cast off the baggage 
of vanity; now, it is certain, and yet that burden still op- 
presseth thee, while they who neither have worn themselves 
out with seeking it, nor for ten years and more have been 
thinking thereon, have had their shoulders lightened, and re- 
ceived wings to fly away." Thus was I gnawed within, and 
exceedingly confounded with a horrible shame, while Pon- 
titianus was so speaking. And he having brought to a close 
his tale and the business he came for, went his way ; and I 
into myself. What said I not against myself? with what 
scourges of condemnation lashed I not my soul, that it might 
follow me, striving to go after Thee ! Yet it drew back ; 
refused, but excused not itself. All arguments were spent 
and confuted; there remained a mute shrinking; and she 
feared, as she would death, to be restrained from the flux 
of that custom, whereby she was wasting to death. 

Then in this great contention of my inward dwelling, 
which I had strongly raised against my soul, in the chamber*' 
of my heart, troubled in mind and countenance, I turned upon 
Alypius. "What ails us?" I exclaim: "what is it? what 
heardest thou ? The unlearned start up and take heaven by 
force** and we with our learning, and without heart, lo, 
where we wallow in flesh and blood ! Are we ashamed to 

" Is. xxvi. 20; Matt. vi. 6. ** Matt. vi. 12. 



136 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

follow, because others are gone before, and not ashamed not 
even to follow ? " Some such words I uttered, and my fever 
of mind tore me away from him, while he, gazing on me in 
astonishment, kept silence. For it was not my wonted tone ; 
and my forehead, cheeks, eyes, colour, tone of voice, spake 
my mind more than the words I uttered. A little garden 
there was to our lodging, which we had the use of, as of 
the whole house; for the master of the house, our host, was 
not living there. Thither had the tumult of my breast 
hurried me, where no man might hinder the hot contention 
wherein I had engaged with myself, until it should end as 
Thou knewest, I knew not. Only I was healthfully dis- 
tracted and dying, to live; knowing what evil thing I was, 
and not knowing what good thing I was shortly to become. 
I retired then into the garden, and Alypius, on my steps. 
For his presence did not lessen my privacy ; or how could he 
forsake me so disturbed? We sate down as far removed as 
might be from the house. I was troubled in spirit, most 
vehemently indignant that I entered not into Thy will and 
covenant, O my God, which all my bones cried out unto me 
to enter, and praised it to the skies. And therein we enter 
not by ships, or chariots, or feet, no, move not so far as I 
had come from the house to that place where we were sitting. 
For, not to go only, but to go in thither was nothing else 
but to will to go, but to will resolutely and thoroughly ; not 
to turn and toss, this way and that, a maimed and half- 
divided will, struggling, with one part sinking as another 
rose. 

Lastly, in the very fever of my irresoluteness, I made with 
my body many such motions as men sometimes would, but can- 
not, if either they have not the limbs, or these be bound with 
bands, weakened with infirmity, or any other way hindered. 
Thus, if I tore my hair, beat my forehead, if locking my 
fingers I clasped my knees; I willed, I did it. But I might 
have willed, and not done it; if the power of motion in my 
limbs had not obeyed. So many things then I did, when " to 
will" was not in itself "to be able"; and I did not what 
both I longed incomparably more to do, and which soon 
after, when I should will, I should be able to do; be- 
cause soon after, when I should will, I should will 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 137 

thoroughly. For in these things the ability was one with the 
will, and to will was to do ; and yet was it not done : and more 
easily did my body obey the weakest willing of my soul, 
in moving its limbs at its nod, than the soul obeyed itself 
to accomplish in the will alone this its momentous will. 

Whence is this monstrousness ? and to what end ? Let Thy 
mercy gleam that I may ask, if so be the secret penalties of 
men, and those darkest pangs of the sons of Adam, may 
perhaps answer me. Whence is this monstrousness? and to 
what end? The mind commands the body, and it obeys in- 
stantly; the mind commands itself, and is resisted. The 
mind commands the hand to be moved; and such readiness 
is there, that command is scarce distinct from obedience. 
Yet the mind is mind, the hand is body. The mind com- 
mands the mind, its own self, to will and yet it doth not. 
Whence this monstrousness? and to what end? It com- 
mands itself, I say, to will, and would not command, unless 
it willed, and what it commands is not done. But it willeth 
not entirely: therefore doth it not command entirely. For 
so far forth it commandeth, as it willeth: and, so far forth 
is the thing commanded, not done, as it willeth not. For the 
will commandeth that there be a will ; not another, but itself. 
But it doth not command entirely, therefore what it com- 
mandeth, is not. For were the will entire, it would not 
even command it to be, because it would already be. It is 
therefore no monstrousness partly to will, partly to nill, but 
a disease of the mind, that it doth not wholly rise, by truth 
up-borne, borne down by custom'. And therefore are there 
two wills, for that one of them is not entire: and what the 
one lacketh, the other hath. 

Let them perish from Thy presence^ O God, as perish 
vain talkers and seducers^ of the soul: who observing that 
in deliberating there were two wills, affirm that there are 
two minds in us of two kinds, one good, the other evil. 
Themselves are truly evil, when they hold these evil things : 
and themselves shall become good when they hold the truth 
and assent unto the truth, that Thy Apostle may say to them, 
Ye were sometimes darkness, hut now light in the Lord.*'' 
But they, wishing to be light, not in the Lord, but in thera- 

«Ps. Ixviii. 2. ««Tit, i. lo. *t Eph. v. 8. 



138 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

selves, imagining the nature of the soul to be that which 
God is, are made more gross darkness through a dreadful 
arrogancy; for that they went back farther from Thee, the 
true Light that enlightcneth every man that cotneth into the 
world.*^ Take heed what you say, and blush for shame : 
draw near unto Him and be enlightened, and your faces 
shall not be ashamed."' Myself when I was deliberating 
upon the serving the Lord my God now, as I had long pur- 
posed, it was I who willed, I who nilled, I, I myself. I neither 
willed entirely, nor nilled entirely. Therefore was I at 
strife with myself, and rent asunder by myself. And this 
rent befell me against my will, and yet indicated, not the 
presence of another mind, but the punishment of my own. 
Therefore it was no more I that wrought it, but sin that 
dwelt in me;^ the punishment of a sin more freely committed, 
in that I was a son of Adam. 

For if there be so many contrary natures as there be con- 
flicting wills, there shall now be not two only, but many. If 
a man deliberate whether he should go to their conventicle 
or to the theatre, these Manichees cry out. Behold, here are 
two natures: one good, draws this way; another bad, draws 
back that way. For whence else is this hesitation between 
conflicting wills? But I say that both be bad: that which 
draws to them, as that which draws back to the theatre. 
But they believe not that will to be other than good, which 
draws to them. What then if one of us should deliberate, 
and amid the strife of his two wills be in a strait, whether he 
should go to the theatre or to our church? would not these 
Manichees also be in a strait what to answer? For either 
they must confess (which they fain would not) that the will 
which leads to our church is good, as well as theirs, who have 
received and are held by the mysteries of theirs: or they 
must suppose two evil natures, and two evil souls conflicting 
in one man, and it will not be true, which they say, that 
there is one good and another bad; or they must be con- 
verted to the truth, and no more deny that where one de- 
liberates, one soul fluctuates between contrary wills. 

Let them no more say then, when they perceive two con- 
flicting wills in one man, that the conflict is between two 
«John i. j>. *»P8. xxxiv. 5. "ORom. vii. 17. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 139 

contrary souls, of two contrary substances, from two con- 
trary principles, one good, and the other bad. For Thou, O 
true God, dost disprove, check, and convict them; as when, 
both wills being bad, one deliberates whether he should kill 
a man by poison or by the sword; whether he should seize 
this or that estate of another's, when he cannot both ; whether 
he should purchase pleasure by luxury, or keep his money 
by covetousness ; whether he go to the circus or the theatre, 
if both be open on one day; or thirdly, to rob another's 
house, if he have the opportunity; or, fourthly, to commit 
adultery, if at the same time he have the means thereof also ; 
all these meeting together in the same juncture of time, and 
all being equally desired, which cannot at one time be acted : 
for they rend the mind amid four, or even (amid the vast 
variety of things desired) more, conflicting wills, nor do 
they yet allege that there are so many divers substances. So 
also in wills which are good. For I ask them, is it good 
to take pleasure in reading the Apostle? or good to take 
pleasure in a sober Psalm? or good to discourse on the 
Gospel ? They will answer to each, " It is good." What 
then if all give equal pleasure, and all at once ? Do not divers 
wills distract the mind, while he deliberates which he should 
rather choose? yet are they all good, and are at variance 
till one be chosen, whither the one entire will may be borne, 
which before was divided into many. Thus also, when, 
above, eternity delights us, and the pleasure of temporal 
good holds us down below, it is the same soul which willeth 
not this or that with an entire will; and therefore is rent 
asunder with grievous perplexities, while out of truth it / 
sets this first, but out of habit sets not that aside. j 

Thus soul-sick was I, and tormented, accusing myself 
much more severely than my wont, rolling and turning me 
in my chain, till that were wholly broken, whereby I now was 
but just, but still was, held. And Thou, O Lord, pressedst 
upon me in my inward parts by a severe mercy, redoubling 
the lashes of fear and shame, lest I should again give way, 
and not bursting that same slight remaining tie, it should 
recover strength, and bind me the faster. For I said within 
myself, " Be it done now, be it done now," and as I spake, 
I all but enacted it : I all but did it, and did it not : yet sunk 



140 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

not back to my former state, but kept my stand hard by, 
and took breath. And I essayed again, and wanted some- 
what less of it, and somewhat less, and all but touched, and laid 
hold of it ; and yet came not at it, nor touched nor laid hold 
of it; hesitating to die to death and to live to life: and the 
worse whereto I was inured, prevailed more with me than 
the better whereto I was unused: and the very moment 
wherein I was to become other than I was, the nearer it 
approached me, the greater horror did it strike into me; 
yet did it not strike me back, nor turned me away, but held 
me in suspense. 

(The very toys of toys, and vanities of vanities, my ancient 
mistresses, still held me ; they plucked my fleshly garment, 
and whispered softly, " Dost thou cast us offhand from that 
moment shall we no more be with thee for ever? and from 
that moment shall not this or that be lawful for thee for 
ever?" And what was it which they suggested in that I 
said, "this or that," what did they suggest, O my God? 
Let Thy mercy turn it away from the soul of Thy servant. 
What defilements did they suggest ! what shame ! And now 
I much less than half heard them, and not openly showing 
themselves and contradicting me, but muttering as it were 
behind my back, and privily plucking me, as I was departing, 
but to look back on them. Yet they did retard me, so that 
I hesitated to burst and shake myself free from them, and to 
spring over whither I was called; a violent habit saying to 
me, " Thinkest thou, thou canst live without them ? " 

But now it spake very faintly. For on that side whither 
I had set my face, and whither I trembled to go, there ap- 
peared unto me the chaste dignity of Continency, serene, yet 
not relaxedly, gay, honestly alluring me to come and doubt 
not; and stretching forth to receive and embrace me, her 
holy hands full of multitudes of good examples: there were 
so many young men and maidens here, a multitude of youth 
and every age, grave widows and aged virgins; and Conti- 
nence herself in all, not barren, but a fruitful mother of chil- 
dren of joys, by Thee her Husband, O Lord. And she smiled 
on me with a persuasive mockery, as would she say, " Canst 
not thou what these youths, what these maidens can? or 
can they either in themselves, and not rather in the Lord 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 141 

their God? The Lord their God gave me unto them. Why 
standest thou in thyself, and so standest not? cast thyself 
upon Him, fear not He will not withdraw Himself that 
thou shouldest fall; cast thyself fearlessly upon Him, He 
will receive, and will heal thee." And I blushed exceedingly, 
for that I yet heard the muttering of those toys, and hung 
in suspense. And she again seemed to say, " Stop thine 
ears against those thy unclean members on the earth, that 
they may be mortified. They tell thee of delights, but not 
as doth the law of the Lord thy God."*^ This controversy 
in my heart was self against self only. But Alypius sitting 
close by my side, in silence waited the issue of my unwonted 
emotion. 

But when a deep consideration had from the secret bottom 
of my soul drawn together and heaped up all my misery 
in the sight of my heart ; there arose a mighty storm, bring- 
ing a mighty shower of tears. Which that I might pour 
forth wholly, in its natural expressions, I rose from Alypius: 
solitude was suggested to me as fitter for the business of 
weeping; so I retired so far that even his presence could 
not be a burden to me. Thus was it then with me, and he 
perceived something of it; for something I suppose I had 
spoken, wherein the tones of my voice appeared choked with 
weeping, and so had risen up. He then remained where 
we were sitting, most extremely astonished. \_I cast myself 
down I know not how, under a certain fig-tree, giving full 
vent to my tears ; and the floods of mine eyes gushed out an 
acceptable sacrifice to Thee. And, not indeed in these words, 
yet to this purpose, spake I much unto Thee: and Thou, 
Lord, how long? how long. Lord, wilt Thou be angry, for 
everf^' Remember not our former iniquities,'^ for I felt 
that I was held by them. I sent up these sorrowful words: 
How long, how long, " to-morrow, and to-morrow?" Why 
not now ? why not is there this hour an end to my uncleanness ? 

So was I speaking and weeping in the most bitter contrition 
of my heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighbouring house 
a voice, as of boy or girl, I know not, chanting, and oft 
repeating, " Take up and read ; Take up and read." In- 
stantly, my countenance altered, I began to think most in- 
« Ps. cix. 8s. Old Ver. « Ps. vi. 4. ** Ps- l^cxix. s. 8- 



142 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

tently whether children were wont in any kind of play to 
sing such words: nor could I remember ever to have heard 
the like. So checking the torrent of my tears, I arose ; inter- 
preting it to be no other than a command from God to open 
the book, and read the first chapter I should find. For I 
had heard of Antony, that coming in during the reading of 
the Gospel, he received the admonition, as if what was being 
read was spoken to him : Go, sell all that thou hast, and give 
to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven, and 
come and follow me:^ and by such oracle he was forthwith 
converted unto Thee. Eagerly then I returned to the place 
where Alypius was sitting ; for there had I laid the volume of 
the Apostle when I arose thence. I seized, opened, and in 
silence read that section on which my eyes first fell : Not in 
rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, 
not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and make not provision for the ilesh^ in concupiscence. 
No further would I read; nor needed I: for instantly 
at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity 
infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished 
, away*^ 

' Then putting my finger between, or some other mark, I 
shut the volume, and with a calmed countenance made it 
known to Alypius. And what was wrought in him, which 
I knew not, he thus showed me. He asked to see what I had 
read: I showed him; and he looked even further than I 
had read, and I knew not what followed. This followed, 
him that is weak in the faith, receive f* which he applied to 
himself, and disclosed to me. And by this admonition was 
he strengthened; and by a good resolution and purpose, and 
most corresponding to his character, wherein he did always 
very far differ from me, for the better, without any turbulent 
delay he joined me. Thence we go in to my mother; we 
tell her; she rejoiceth: we relate in order how it took place; 
she leaps for joy, and triunipheth, and blessed Thee, Who art 
able to do above that which we ask or think f" for she per- 
ceived that Thou hadst given her more for me, than she was 
wont to beg by her pitiful and most sorrowful groanings. 

»* Matt. xix. 31. " Rotn. xiii. 13, 14. "Rom. xiv. i. 
^ Eph- iii. 20. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 143 

For thou convertedst me unto Thyself, so that I sought 
neither wife, nor any hope of this world, standing in that 
rule of faitH^ where Thou hadst showed me unto her in a 
vision, so many years before. And Thou didst convert her 
mourning into joy^ much more plentiful than she had de- 
sired, and in a much more precious and purer way than she 
erst required, by having grandchildren of my body. 

*Ps. XXX. II. 



THE NINTH BOOK 

Augustine determines to devote his life to God, and to abandon his 
profession of Rhetoric, quietly however; retires to the country 
to prepare himself to receive the grace of Baptism, and is 
baptised with Alypius, and his son Adeodatus. At Ostia, in his 
way to Africa, his mother Monnica dies, in her fifty-sixth Jear, 
the thirty-third of Augustine. Her life and character 

OLORD, I ant Thy servant; I am Thy servant, and the 
son of Thy handmaid. Thou hast broken my bonds in 
sunder. I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of praise.^ 
Let my heart and my tongue praise Thee ; yea^ let all my bones 
say, O Lord, who is like unto Thee? Let them say, and answer 
Thou me, and say unto my soul, I am thy salvation?^ Who 
am I, and what am I? What evil have not been either my 
deeds, or if not my deeds, my words, or if not my words, my 
will? But Thou, O Lord, art good and merciful, and Thy 
right hand had respect unto the depth of my death, and from 
the bottom of my heart emptied that abyss of corruption. 
And this Thy whole gift was, to nill what I willed, and to^ 
will what Thou willedst. But where through all those 
years, and out of what low and deep recess was my free-will 
called forth in a moment, whereby to submit my neck to Thy 
easy yoke," and my shoulders unto Thy light burden, O Christ 
Jesus, my Helper and my Redeemer?* How sweet did it 
at once become to me, to want the sweetness of those toys ! 
and what I feared to be parted from, was now a joy to part 
with. For Thou didst cast them forth from me, Thou true 
and highest sweetness. Thou castest them forth, and for 
them enteredst in Thyself, sweeter than all pleasure, though 
not to flesh and blood; brighter than all light, but more 
hidden than all depths, higher than all honour, but not to the 
high in their own conceits. Now was my soul free from 
the biting cares of canvassing and getting, and weltering in 
1 Ps. cxvL 16, 17. » Ps. XXXV. 10. • Matt. xi. 30. * Ps. xix. 4. 
144 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 145 

filth, and scratching off the itch of lust. And my infant 
tongue spake freely to Thee, my brightness, and my riches, 
and my health, the Lord my God. 

And I resolved in Thy sight, not tumultuously to tear, but 
gently to withdraw, the service of my tongue from the 
marts of lip-labour: that the young, no students in Thy law, 
nor in Thy peace, but in lying dotages and law-skirmishes, 
should no longer buy at my mouth arms for their madness. 
And very seasonably, it now wanted but very few days unto 
the Vacation of the Vintage, and I resolved to endure them, 
then in a regular way to take my leave, and having been 
purchased by Thee, no more to return for sale. Our purpose 
then was known to Thee; but to men, other than our owir 
friends, was it not known. For we had agreed among our- 
selves not to let it out abroad to any: although to us, now 
ascending from the valley of tears, and singing that song of 
degrees, Thou hast given sharp arrows, and destroying coals 
against the subtle tongue, which as though advising for us, 
would thwart, and would out of love devour us, as it doth 
its meat. 

Thou hadst pierced our hearts with Thy charity, and we 
carried Thy words as it were fixed in our entrails: and the 
examples of Thy servants, whom for black Thou hadst made 
bright, and for dead, alive, being piled together in the recep- 
tacle of our thoughts, kindled and burned up that our heavy 
torpor, that we should not sink down to the abyss; and they 
fired up so vehemently, that all the blasts of subtle tongues 
from gainsayers might only inflame us the more fiercely, not 
extinguish us. Nevertheless7 because for Thy Name's sake 
which Thou hast hallowed throughout the earth, this our 
vow and purpose might also find some to commend it, it 
seemed like ostentation not to wait for the vacation now so 
near, but to quit beforehand a public profession, which was 
before the eyes of all ; so that all looking on this act of mine, 
and observing how near was the time of vintage which I 
wished to anticipate, would talk much of me, as if i had 
desired to appear some great one. And what end had it 
served me, that people should repute and dispute upon my 
purpose, and that our good should be evil spoken of.^ 

^ Rom. xiv. 1 6, 



146 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Moreover, it had at first troubled me that in this very 
summer my lungs began to give way, amid too great liter- 
ary labour, and to breathe deeply with difficulty, and by the 
pain in my chest to show that they were injured, and to 
refuse any full or lengthened speaking; this had troubled 
me, for it almost constrained me of necessity to lay down 
that burden of teaching, or, if I could be cured and recover, 
at least to intermit it. But when the full wish for leisure, 
that I might see how that Thou art the Lord* arose, and 
was fixed, in me; my God, Thou knowest, I began even to 
rejoice that I had this secondary, and that no feigned, ex- 
cuse, which might something moderate the offence taken by 
those who, for their sons' sake, wished me never to have 
the freedom of Thy sons. Full then of such joy, I endured 
till that interval of time were run; it may have been some 
twenty days, yet they were endured manfully; endured, for 
the covetousness which aforetime bore a part of this heavy 
business, had left me, and I remained alone, and had been 
overwhelmed, had not patience taken its place. Perchance, 
some of Thy servants, my brethren, may say that I sinned 
in this, that with a heart fully set on Thy service, I suffered 
myself to sit even one hour in the chair of lies. Nor would 
I be contentious. But hast not Thou, O most merciful Lord, 
pardoned and remitted this sin also, with my other most 
horrible and deadly sins, in the holy water? 

Verecundus was worn down with care about this our 
blessedness, for that being held back by bonds, whereby he 
was most straitly bound, he saw that he should be severed 
from us. For himself was not yet a Christian, his wife one 
of the faithful; and yet hereby, more rigidly than by any 
other chain, was he let and hindered from the journey which 
we had now essayed. For he would not, he said, be a 
Christian on any other terms than on those he could not. 
However, he offered us courteously to remain at his country- 
house so long as we should stay there. Thou, O Lord, shalt 
reward him in the resurrection of the just^ seeing Thou hast 
already given him the lot of the righteous.' For although, 
in our absence, being now at Rome, he was seized with 
bodily sickness, and therein being made a Christian, and 

•Ps. xlvi. 10. ^Luke xiv. 14. « Ps. cxxv. 3. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 147 

one of the faithful, he departed this life; yet hadst Thou 
mercy not on him only, but on us also :' lest remembering the 
exceeding kindness of our friend towards us, yet unable to 
number him among Thy flock, we should be agonised with 
intolerable sorrow. Thanks unto Thee, our God, we are 
Thine: Thy suggestions and consolations tell us, Faithful 
in promises. Thou now requitest Verecundus for his country- 
house of Cassiacum, where from the fever of the world we 
reposed in Thee, with the eternal freshness of Thy Para- 
dise: for that Thou hast forgiven him his sins upon earth, 
in that rich mountain, that mountain which yieldeth milk, 
Thine own mountain. 

He then had at that time sorrow, but Nebridius joy. For 
although he also, not being yet a Christian, had fallen into 
the pit of that most pernicious error, believing the flesh 
of Thy Son to be a phantom: yet emerging thence, he be- 
lieved as we did; not as yet endued with any Sacraments of 
Thy Church, but a most ardent searcher out of truth. 
Whom, not long after our conversion and regeneration by 
Thy Baptism, being also a faithful member of the Church 
Catholic, and serving Thee in perfect chastity and con- 
tinence amongst his people in Africa, his whole house having 
through him first been made Christian, didst Thou release 
from the flesh ; and now he lives in Abraham's bosom. What- 
ever that be, which is signified by that bosom, there lives 
my Nebridius, my sweet friend, and Thy child, O Lord, 
adopted of a freed man: there he liveth. For what other 
place is there for such a soul? There he liveth, whereof 
he asked much of me, a poor inexperienced man. Now lays 
he not his ear to my mouth, but his spiritual mouth unto 
Thy fountain, and drinketh as much as he can receive, 
wisdom in proportion to his thirst, endlessly happy. Nor 
do I think that he is so inebriated therewith, as to forget 
me; seeing Thou, Lord, Whom he drinketh, art mindful of 
us. So were we then, comforting Verecundus, who sor- 
rowed, as far as friendship permitted, that our conversion 
was of such sort; and exhorting him to become faithful, 
according to his measure, namely, of a married estate; and 
awaiting Nebridius to follow us, which, being so near, he 

»Phil. ii. 27. 



148 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

was all but doing : and so, lo ! those days rolled by at length ; 
for long and many they seemed, for the love I bare to the 
easeful liberty, that I might sing to Thee from my inmost 
marrow, My heart hath said unto Thee, I have sought Thy 
face: Thy face. Lord, will I seek^" 

Now was the day come wherein I was in deed to be freed 
of my Rhetoric Professorship, whereof in thought I was 
already freed. And it was done. Thou didst rescue my 
tongue, whence Thou hadst before rescued my heart. And 
I blessed Thee, rejoicing; retiring with all mine to the villa. 
What I there did in writing, which was now enlisted in Thy 
service, though still, m. this breathing-time as it were, pant- 
ing from the school of pride, my books may witness, as well 
what I debated with others, as what with myself alone, 
before Thee: what with Nebridius, who was absent, my 
Epistles bear witness. And when shall I have time to re- 
hearse all Thy great benefits towards us at that time, espe- 
cially when hastening on to yet greater mercies? For my 
remembrance recalls me, and pleasant is it to me, O Lord, 
to confess to Thee, by what inward goads Thou tamedst me ; 
and how Thou hast evened me, lowering the mountains and 
kills of my high imaginations, straightening my crookedness, 
and smoothing my rough ways; and how Thou also subduest 
the brother of my heart. Alypius, unto the Name of Thy 
Only Begotten, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, which 
he would not at first vouchsafe to have inserted in our 
writings. For rather would he have them savour of the 
lofty cedars of the Schools, which the Lord hath now 
broken down)^ than of the wholesome herbs of the Church, 
the antidote against serpents. 

Oh, in what accents spake I unto Thee, my God, when I 
read the Psalms of David, those faithful songs, and sounds 
of devotion, which allow of no swelling spirit, as yet a Cate- 
chumen, and a novice in Thy real love, resting in that 
villa, with Alypius a Catechumen, my mother cleaving to us, 
in female garb with masculine faith, with the tranquillity 
of age, motherly love, Christian piety! Oh, what accents 
did I utter unto Thee in those Psalms, and how was I by 
them kindled towards Thee, and on fire to rehearse them, if 

«> Ps. xxvU. 8. »« Ps. xxix. s- 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 149 

possible, through the whole world, against the pride of man- 
kind! And yet they are sung through the whole world, 
nor can any hide himself from Thy heat}' With what 
vehement and bitter sorrow was I angered at the Manichees ! 
and again I pitied them for that they knew not those Sacra- 
ments, those medicines, and were mad against the antidote 
which might have recovered them of their madness. How 
I would they had then been somewhere near me, and without 
my knowing that they were there, could have beheld my 
countenance, and heard my words, when I read the fourth 
Psalm in that time of my rest, and how that Psalm wrought 
upon me, When I called, the God of my righteousness heard 
me; in tribulation Thou enlargedst me. Have mercy upon 
me, O Lord, and hear my prayer}^ Would that what I 
uttered on these words, they could hear, without my knowing 
whether they heard, lest they should think I spake it for 
their sakes ! Because in truth neither should I speak the 
same things, nor in the same way, if I perceived that they 
heard and saw me; nor if I spake them would they so re- 
ceive them, as when I spake by and for myself before Thee, 
out of the natural feelings of my soul. 

I trembled for fear, and again kindled with hope, and with 
rejoicing in Thy mercy, O Father; and all issued forth both 
by mine eyes and voice, when Thy good Spirit turning 
unto us, said, O ye sons of men, how long slow of heart? why 
do ye love vanity, and seek after leasing f^* For I had 
loved vanity, and sought after leasing.^ And Thou, O Lord, 
hadst already magnified Thy Holy One, raising Him from 
the dead, and setting Him at Thy right hand,^* whence from 
on high He should send His promise, the Comforter, the 
Spirit of truth}'' And He had already sent Him, but I 
knew it not; He had sent Him, because He was now mag- 
nified, rising again from the dead, and ascending into 
heaven." For till then, the Spirit was not yet given, because 
Jesus was not yet glorified}' And the prophet cries out. 
How long, slozv of heart f why do ye love vanity, and seek 
after leasing? Know this, that the Lord hath magnified 
His Holy One. He cries out, How long? He cries out, 

" Ps. xix. 6. 13 ps. jv. I. Old Vers. " Ps. iv. 2. Old Vers. 

i^Ver. 3. " Eph. i. 20. "Luke xxix. 49; John xiv. 16, 17. 

"Acts ii. 1-4. I'John vii. 39. 



ISO THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Know this: and I so long, not knowing, loved vanity, and 
sought after leasing: and therefore I heard and trembled, 
because it was spoken unto such as I remembered myself 
to have been. For in those phantoms which I had held for 
truths, was there vanity and leasing; and I spake aloud many 
things earnestly and forcibly, in the bitterness of my remem- 
brance. Which would they had heard, who yet love vanity 
and seek after leasing! They would perchance have been 
troubled, and have vomited it up; and Thou wouldest hear 
them when they cried unto Thee; for by a true death in the 
flesh did He die for us, who now intercedeth unto Thee 
or us. 

I further read, Be angry, and sin not.^ And how was I 
moved, O my God, who had now learned to be angry at 
myself for things past, that I might not sin in time to come ! 
Yea, to be justly angry; for that it was not another nature 
of a people of darkness which sinned for me, as they say 
who are not angry at themselves, and treasure up wrath 
against the day of wrath, and of the revelation of Thy just 
judgment.^ Nor were my good things now without, nor 
sought with the eyes of flesh in that earthly sun; for they 
that would have joy from without soon become vain, and 
waste themselves on the things seen and temporal, and in 
their famished thoughts do lick their very shadows. Oh that 
they were wearied out with their famine, and said, Who 
-will show us good things f^ And we would say, and they 
hear. The light of Thy countenance is sealed upon us.'* For 
we are not that light which enlighteneth every man,' but 
we are enlightened by Thee ; that having been sometimes 
darkness, we may be light in Thee.'* Oh that they could see 
the eternal Internal, which having tasted, I was grieved that 
I could not show It them, so long as they brought me their 
heart in their eyes roving abroad from Thee, while they said, 
Who will show us good things?" For there, where I was 
angry within myself in my chamber, where I was inwardly 
pricked, where I had sacrificed, slaying my old man and 
commencing the purpose of a new life, putting my trust in 
Thee," — there hadst Thou begun to grow sweet unto me, 

» Rom. viii. 34. ** Eph. iv. 26. *! Rom. ii. 5. =" Ps. iv. 6. 

"^Ibid. "John i. 9. «> Eph. v. 8. =^ Ps. iv. 6. " Ver. 5. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 151 

and hadst put gladness in my hearth And I cried out, as 
I read this outwardly, finding it inwardly. Nor would I be 
multiplied with worldly goods; wasting away time, and 
wasted by time; whereas I had in Thy eternal Simple Es- 
sence other corn, and ivine, and oil. 

And with a loud cry of my heart I cried out in the next 
verse, O in peace, O for The Self -same! O what said he, / 
will lay me dozvn and sleep,"^ for who shall hinder us, when 
Cometh to pass that saying which is written. Death is swal- 
lowed up in victory?^ And Thou surpassingly are the Self- 
same, Who art not changed; and in Thee is rest which for- 
getteth all toil, for there is none other with Thee, nor are 
we to seek those many other things, which are not what 
Thou art: but Thou Lord, alone hast made me dwell in 
hope, I read, and kindled; nor found I what to do to 
those deaf and dead, of whom myself had been, a pestilent 
person, a bitter and a blind bawler against those writings, 
which are honied with the honey of heaven, and lightsome 
with Thine own light: and I was consumed with zeal at the 
enemies of this Scripture. 

When shall I recall all which passed in those holy-days? 
Yet neither have I forgotten, nor will I pass over the 
severity of Thy scourge, and the wonderful swiftness of 
Thy mercy. Thou didst then torment me with pain in 
my teeth; which when it had come to such height that I 
could not speak, it came into my heart to desire all my 
friends present to pray for me to Thee, the God of all 
manner of health. And this I wrote on wax, and gave it 
to them to read. Presently so soon as with humble devotion 
we had bowed our knees, that pain went away. But what 
pain? or how went it away? I was affrighted, O my 
Lord, my God, for from infancy I had never experienced 
the like. And the power of Thy Nod was deeply conveyed 
to me, and rejoicing in faith, I praised Thy Name. And 
that faith suffered me not to be at ease about my past sins, 
which were not yet forgiven me by Thy baptism. 

The vintage-vacation ended, I gave notice to the Milanese 
to provide their scholars with another master to sell words 
to them ; for that I had both made choice to serve Thee, and 

» Ps. iv. 7. »» Vcr. 8. » i Cor. xv. 54- 



152 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

through my difficulty of breathing and pain in my chest 
was not equal to the Professorship. And by letters I 
signified to Thy Prelate, the holy man Ambrose, my former 
errors and present desires, begging his advice what of Thy 
Scriptures I had best read, to become readier and fitter for 
receiving so great grace. He recommended Isaiah the 
Prophet : I believe, because he above the rest is a more clear 
fore-shower of the Gospel and of the calling of the Gentiles. 
But I, not understanding the first lesson in him, and imagin- 
ing the whole to be like it, laid it by, to be resumed when 
better practised in our Lord's own words. 

Thence, when the time was come wherein I was to give 
in my name, we left the country and returned to Milan. It 
pleased Alypius also to be with me born again in Thee, 
being already clothed with the humility befitting Thy Sacra- 
ments; and a most valiant tamer of the body, so as, with 
unwonted venture, to wear the frozen ground of Italy with 
his bare feet. We joined with us the boy Adeodatus, born 
after the flesh of my sin. Excellently hadst Thou made him. 
He was not quite fifteen, and in wit surpassed many grave 
and learned men. I confess unto Thee Thy gifts, O Lord 
my God, Creator of all. and abundantly able to reform our 
deformities: for I had no part in that boy, but the sin. 
For that we brought him up in Thy discipline, it was Thou, 
none else, had inspired us with it. I confess unto Thee Thy 
gifts. There is a book of ours entitled The Master; it is 
a dialogue between him and me. Thou knowest that all there 
ascribed to the person conversing with me were his ideas, 
in his sixteenth year. Much besides, and yet more admirable, 
I found in him. That talent struck awe into me. And who 
but Thou could be the work-master of such wonders? Soon 
didst Thou take his life from the earth : and I now remem- 
ber him without anxiety, fearing nothing for his childhood 
or youth, or his whole self. Him we joined with us, our 
contemporary in grace, to be brought up in Thy discipline; 
and we were baptised, and anxiety for our past life vanished 
from us. Nor was I sated in those days with the wondrous 
sweetness of considering the depth of Thy counsels concern- 
ing the salvation of mankind. How did I weep, in Thy 
Hymns and Canticles, touched to the quick by the voices 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 153 

of Thy sweet-attuned Church ! The voices flowed into mine 
ears, and the Truth distilled into my heart, whence the 
affections of my devotion overflowed, and tears ran down, 
and happy was I therein. 

Not long had the Church of Milan begun to use this kind 
of consolation and exhortation, the brethren zealously join- 
ing with harmony of voice and hearts. For it was a year, 
or not much more, that Justina, mother to the Emperor 
Valentinian, a child, persecuted Thy servant Ambrose, in 
favour of her heresy, to which she was seduced by the 
Arians. The devout people kept watch in the Church, 
ready to die with their Bishop Thy servant. There my 
mother Thy handmaid, bearing a chief part of those anxie- 
ties and watchings, lived for prayer. We, yet unwarmed 
by the heat of Thy Spirit, still were stirred up by the sight 
of the amazed and disquieted city. Then it was first in- 
stituted that after the manner of the Eastern Churches, 
Hymns and Psalms should be sung, lest the people should 
wax faint through the tediousness of sorrow: and from 
that day to this the custom is retained, divers (yea, almost 
all) Thy congregations, throughout other parts of the world, 
following herein. 

Then didst Thou by a vision discover to Thy forenamed 
Bishop where the bodies of Gervasius and Protasius the 
martyrs lay hid (whom Thou hadst in Thy secret treasury 
stored uncorrupted so many years), whence Thou mightest 
seasonably produce them to repress the fury of a woman, 
but an Empress. For when they were discovered and dug 
up, and with due honour translated to the Ambrosian Basil- 
ica, and not only they who were vexed with unclean spirits 
(the devils confessing themselves) were cured, but a 
certain man who had for many years been blind, a citizen, 
and well known to the city, asking and hearing the reason 
of the people's confused joy, sprang forth, desiring his 
guide to lead him thither. Led thither, he begged to be 
allowed to touch with his handkerchief the bier of Thy 
saints, whose death is precious in Thy sight." Which when 
he had done, and put to his eyes, they were forthwith opened. 
Thence did the fame spread, thence Thy praises glowed, 

**Ps. cxvi. IS. 



1S4 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

shone; thence the mind of that enemy, though not turned 
to the soundness of believing, was yet turned back from her 
fury of persecuting. Thanks to Thee, O my God. Whence 
and whither hast Thou thus led my remembrance, that I 
should confess these things also unto Thee? which great 
though they be, I had passed by in forgetfulness. And yet 
then, when the odour of Thy ointments was so fragrant, 
did we not run after Thee.^ Therefore did I more weep 
among the singing of Thy Hymns, formerly sighing after 
Thee, and at length breathing in Thee, as far as the breath 
may enter into this our house of grass. 

Thou that makest men to dwell of one mind in one house," 
didst join with us Euodius also, a young man of our own 
city. Who being an officer of Court, was before us con- 
verted to Thee and baptised : and quitting his secular warfare, 
girded himself to Thine. We were together, about to dwell 
together in our devout purpose. We sought where we might 
serve Thee most usefully, and were together returning to 
Africa: whitherward being as far as Ostia, my mother de- 
parted this life. Much I omit, as hastening much. Receive 
my confessions and thanksgivings, O my God, for innumer- 
able things whereof I am silent. But I will not omit 
whatsoever my soul would bring forth concerning that Thy 
handmaid, who brought me forth, both in the flesh, that 
I might be born to this temporal light, and in heart, that 
I might be born to Light eternal. Not her gifts, but Thine 
in her, would I speak of; for neither did she make nor 
educate herself. Thou createdst her; nor did her father 
and mother know what a one should come from them. And 
the sceptre of Thy Christ, the discipline of Thine only Son, 
in a Christian house, a good member of Thy Church, edu- 
cated her in Thy fear. Yet for her good discipline was 
she wont to commend not so much her mother's diligence, 
as that of a certain decrepit maid-servant, who had carried 
her father when a child, as little ones use to be carried at 
the backs of elder girls. For which reason, and for her 
great age, and excellent conversation, was she, in that 
Christian family, well respected by its heads. Whence also 
the charge of her master's daughters was entrusted to her, 

"Cant. i. a, 3. »* Ps. Ixviii. 6. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 155 

to which she gave diligent heed, restraining them earnestly, 
when necessary, with a holy severity, and teaching them 
with a grave discretion. For, except at those hours wherein 
they were most temperately fed at their parents' table, she 
would not suffer them, though parched with thirst, to drink 
even water; preventing an evil custom, and adding this 
wholesome advice : " Ye drink water now, because you have 
not wine in your power; but when you come to be married, 
and be made mistresses of cellars and cupboards, you will 
scorn water, but the custom of drinking will abide." By 
this method of instruction, and the authority she had she 
refrained the greediness of childhood, and moulded their 
very thirst to such an excellent moderation that what they 
should not, that they would not. 

And yet (as Thy handmaid told me her son) there had 
crept upon her a love of wine. For when (as the manner 
was) she, as though a sober maiden, was bidden by her 
parents to draw wine out of the hogshead, holding the vessel 
under the opening, before she poured the wine into the flagon, 
she sipped a little with the tip of her lips ; for more her in- 
stinctive feelings refused. For this she did, not out of any 
desire of drink, but out of the exuberance of youth, whereby, 
it boils over in mirthful freaks, which in youthful spirits 
are wont to be kept under by the gravity of their elders. 
And thus by adding to that little, daily littles (for whoso 
despiseth little things shall fall by little and little^) she had 
fallen into such a habit as greedily to drink off her 
little cup brim-full almost of wine. Where was then 
that discreet old woman, and that her earnest counter- 
manding? Would aught avail against a secret disease, 
if Thy healing hand, O Lord, watched not over us ? Father, 
mother, and governors absent, Thou present, who createdst, 
who callest, who also by those set over us, workest something 
towards the salvation of our souls, what didst Thou then, O my 
God? how didst Thou cure her? how heal her? didst Thou 
not out of another soul bring forth a hard and a sharp taunt, 
like a lancet out of Thy secret store, and with one touch 
remove all that foul stuff? For a maid-servant with whom 
she used to go to the cellar, falling to words (as it happens) 

'* Ecclus. xix. I. 



156 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

with her little mistress, when alone with her, taunted her 
with this fault, with most bitter insult, calling her wine- 
bibber. With. which taunt, she, stung to the quick, saw the 
foulness of her fault, and instantly condemned and forsook 
it. As flattering friends pervert, so reproachful enemies 
mostly correct. Yet not what by them Thou doest, but what 
themselves purposed, dost Thou repay them. For she in 
her anger sought to vex her young mistress, not to amend 
her; and did it in private, either for that the time and place 
of the quarrel so found them; or lest herself also should 
have anger, for discovering it thus late. But Thou, Lord, 
Governor of all in heaven and earth, who turnest to Thy 
purposes the deepest currents, and the ruled turbulence of 
the tide of times, didst by the very unhealthiness of one 
soul heal another; lest any, when he observes this, should 
ascribe it to his own power, even when another, whom he 
wished to be reformed, is reformed through words of his. 
Brought up thus modestly and soberly, and made subject 
rather by Thee to her parents, than by her parents to Thee, 
so soon as she was of marriageable age, being bestowed 
upon a husband, she served him as her lord; and did her 
diligence to win him unto Thee, preaching Thee unto him by 
her conversation; by which Thou ornamentedst her, making 
her reverently amiable, and admirable unto her husband. 
And she so endured the wronging of her bed as never to 
have any quarrel with h^r husband thereon. For she 
looked for Thy mercy upon him, that believing in Thee, 
he might be made chaste. But besides this, he was fervid, 
as in his affections, so in anger: but she had learnt not to 
resist an angry husband, not in deed only, but not even 
in word. Only when he was smoothed and tranquil, and 
in a temper to receive it, she would give an account of her 
actions, if haply he had overhastily taken offence. In a 
word, while many matrons, who had milder husbands, yet 
bore even in their faces marks of shame, would in familiar 
talk blame their husbands' lives, she would blame their 
tongues, giving them, as in jest, earnest advice: "That 
from the time they heard the marriage writings read to 
them, they should account them as indentures, whereby they 
were made servants; and so, remembering their condition, 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 157 

ought not to set themselves up against their lords." And 
when they, knowing what a choleric husband she endured, 
marvelled that it had never been heard, nor by any token 
perceived, that Patricius had beaten his wife, or that there 
had been any domestic difference between them, even for 
one day, and confidentially asking the reason, she taught them 
her practice above mentioned. Those wives who observed 
it found the good, and returned thanks; those who observed 
it not, found no relief, and suffered. 

Her mother-in-law also, at first by whisperings of evil 
servants incensed against her, she so overcame by observ- 
ance and persevering endurance and meekness, that she of 
her own accord discovered to her son the meddling tongues 
whereby the domestic peace betwixt her and her daughter- 
in-law had been disturbed, asking him to correct them. 
Then, when in compliance with his mother, and for the well- 
ordering of the family, and the harmony of its members, he 
had with stripes corrected those discovered, at her will who 
had discovered them, she promised the like reward to any 
who, to please her, should speak ill of her daughter-in-law 
to her: and none now venturing, they lived together with 
a remarkable sweetness of mutual kindness. 

This great gift also Thou bestowedst, O my God, my mercy, 
upon that good handmaid of Thine, in whose womb Thou 
createdst me, that between any disagreeing and discordant 
parties where she was able, she showed herself such a peace- 
maker, that hearing on both sides most bitter things, such as 
swelling and indigested choler uses to break out into, when 
the crudities of enmities are breathed out in sour discourses 
to a present friend against an absent enemy, she never would 
disclose aught of the one unto the other, but what might 
tend to their reconcilement. A small good this might appear 
to me, did I not to my grief know numberless persons, who 
through some horrible and wide-spreading contagion of sin, 
not only disclose to persons mutually angered things said in 
anger, but add withal things never spoken, whereas to humane 
humanity, it ought to seem a light thing not to foment 
or increase ill will by ill words, unless one study withal by 
good words to quench it. Such was she. Thyself, her most 
inward Instructor, teaching her in the school of the heart. 



158 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

Finally, her own husband, towards the very end of his earth- 
ly life, did she gain unto Thee ; nor had she to complain of that 
in him as a believer, which before he was a believer she had 
borne from him. She was also the servant of Thy servants ; 
whosoever of them knew her, did in her much praise and 
honour and love Thee; for that through the witness of the 
fruits of a holy conversation they perceived Thy presence 
in her heart. For she had been the wife of one man, had 
requited her parents, had governed her house piously, was 
well reported of her good works, had brought up children^ 
so often travailing in birth of them,'^ as she saw them swerv- 
ing from Thee. Lastly, of all of us Thy servants, O Lord 
(whom on occasion of Thy own gift Thou sufferest to speak), 
us, who before her sleeping in Thee lived united together, 
having received the grace of Thy baptism, did she so take 
care of, as though she had been mother of us all; so served 
us, as though she had been child to us all. 

The day now approaching whereon she was to depart this 
life (which day Thou well knewest, we knew not), it came 
to pass, Thyself, as I believe, by Thy secret ways so order- 
ing it, that she and I stood alone, leaning in a certain win- 
dow, which looked into the garden of the house where we 
now lay, at Ostia; where removed from the din of men, we 
were recruiting from the fatigues of a long journey, for the 
voyage. We were discoursing then together, alone, very 
sweetly; and forgetting those things which are behind, and 
reaching forth unto those things which are before," we 
were enquiring between ourselves in the presence of the 
Truth, which Thou art, of what sort the eternal life of the 
saints was to be^ which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor 
hath it entered into the heart of man." But yet we gasped 
with the mouth of our heart, after those heavenly streams 
of Thy fountain, the fountain of life, which is with Thee;*" 
that being bedewed thence according to our capacity, we 
might in some sort meditate upon so high a mystery. 

And when our discourse was brought to that point, that 
the very highest delight of the earthly senses, in the very 
purest material light, was, in respect of the sweetness of 

■•Tim. V. 4, 9, 10. •'Gal. iv. 19. ** Phil. iii. 13. 
•• I Cor. ii. 9. *" Ps. xxxvi. 9. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 159 

that life, not only not worthy of comparison, but not even 
of mention ; we raising up ourselves with a more glowing 
affection towards the " Self-same," did by degrees pass 
through all things bodily, even the very heaven whence sun 
and moon and stars shine upon the earth; yea, we were 
soaring higher yet, by inward musing, and discourse, and 
admiring of Thy works; and we came to our own minds, 
and went beyond them, that we might arrive at that region 
of never-failing plenty, where Thou feedest Israel*'^ for ever 
with the food of truths, and where life is the Wisdom by 
whom all these things are made, and what have been, and 
what shall be, and she is not made, but is, as she hath been, 
and so shall she be ever ; yea rather, to " have been," and 
" hereafter to be," are not in her, but only " to be," seeing 
she is eternal. For to " have been," and to " be hereafter," 
are not eternal. And while we were discoursing and pant- 
ing after her, we slightly touched on her with the whole 
effort of our heart ; and we sighed, and there we leave bound 
the first fruits of the Spirit;*' and returned to vocal expres- 
sions of our mouth, where the word spoken has beginning 
and end. And what is like unto Thy Word, our Lord, who 
endureth in Himself without becoming old, and maketh all 
things new?^ 

We were saying then: If to any the tumult of the flesh 
were hushed, hushed the images of earth, and waters, and 
air, hushed also the poles of heaven, yea the very soul be 
hushed to herself, and by not thinking on self surmount self, 
hushed all dreams and imaginary revelations, every tongue 
and every sign, and whatsoever exists only in transition, 
since if any could hear, all these say. We made not ourselves, 
hut He made us that abideth for ever — If then having uttered 
this, they too should be hushed, having roused only our ears 
to Him who made them, and He alone speak, not by them, 
but by Himself, that we may hear His Word, not through 
any tongue of flesh, nor Angel's voice, nor sound of thunder, 
nor in the dark riddle of a similitude, but might hear Whom 
in these things we love, might hear His Very Self without 
these (as we two now strained ourselves, and in swift 
thought touched on that Eternal Wisdom which abideth 

*i Ps. Ixxx. 1. *2 Rom. viii. 22. *» Wisd. vii. 27. 



160 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

over all) : — could this be continued on, and other visions of 
kind far unlike be withdrawn, and this one ravish, and 
absorb, and wrap up its beholder amid these inward joys, so 
that life might be for ever like that one moment of under- 
standing which now we sighed after; were not this. Enter 
into thy Master's joyf** And when shall that be? When 
we shall all rise again, though we shall not all be changedf" 
Such things was I speaking, and even if not in this very 
manner, and these same words, yet Lord, Thou knowest that 
in that day when we were speaking of these things, and this 
world with all its delights became, as we spake, contemptible 
to us, my mother said, " Son, for mine own part I have no 
further delight in any thing in this life. What I do here 
any longer, and to what end I am here, I know not, now 
that my hopes in this world are accomplished. One thing 
there was'^for which I desired to linger for a while in this 
life, that I might see thee a Catholic Christian before I 
died. My God hath done this for me more abundantly, that 
I should now see thee withal, despising earthly happiness, 
become His servant: what do I here?" 

What answer I made her unto these things, I remember 
not. For scarce five days after, or not much more, she fell 
sick of a fever; and in that sickness one day she fell into 
a swoon, and was for a while withdrawn from these visible 
things. We hastened round her; but she was soon brought 
back to her senses ; and looking on me and my brother stand- 
ing by her, said to us enquiringly, " Where was I ? " And 
' then looking fixedly on us, with grief amazed : " Here," saith 
she, " shall you bury your mother." I held my peace and 
refrained weeping; but my brother spake something, wish- 
ing, for her, as the happier lot, that she might die, not in 
a strange place, but in her own land. Whereat, she with 
anxious look, checking him with her eyes, for that he still 
savoured such things, and then looking upon me : " Behold," 
saith she, "what he saith:" and soon after to us both, 
" Lay," she saith, " this body any where ; let not the care 
for that any way disquiet you : this only I request, that you 
would remember me at the Lord's altar, wherever you be." 
And having delivered this sentiment in what words she 
««Matt. xxT. 21. *" I Cor. xv. 51.— Vnlg., etc 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 161 

could she held her peace, being exercised by her growing 
sickness. 

But I, considering Thy gifts, Thou unseen God, which 
Thou instillest into the hearts of Thy faithful ones, whence 
wondrous fruits do spring, did rejoice and give thanks to 
Thee, recalling what I before knew, how careful and anxious 
she had ever been as to her place of burial, which she had 
provided and prepared for herself by the body of her hus- 
band. For because they had lived in great harmony together, 
she also wished (so little can the human mind embrace things 
divine) to have this addition to that happiness, and to 
have it remembered among men, that after her pilgrimage 
beyond the seas, what was earthly of this united pair had 
been permitted to be united beneath the same earth. But 
when this emptiness had through the fulness of Thy goodness 
begun to cease in her heart, I knew not, and rejoiced ad- 
miring what she had so disclosed to me; though indeed in 
that our discourse also in the window, when she said, " What 
do I here any longer ? " there appeared no desire of dying 
in her own country. I heard afterwards also, that when we 
were now at Ostia, she with a mother's confidence, when 
I was absent, one day discoursed with certain of my friends 
about the contempt of this life, and the blessing of death: 
and when they were amazed at such courage which Thou 
hadst given to a woman, and asked, "Whether she were not 
afraid to leave her body so far from her own city ? " she 
replied, " Nothing is far to God ; nor was it to be feared 
lest at the end of the world. He should not recognise whence 
He were to raise me up." On the ninth day then of her 
sickness, and the fifty-sixth year of her age, and the three- 
and-thirtieth of mine, was that religious and holy soul freed 
from the body. 

I closed her eyes ; and there flowed withal a mighty sor- 
row into my heart, which was overflowing into tears; mine 
eyes at the same time, by the violent command of my mind, 
drank up their fountain wholly dry; and woe was me in 
such a strife ! But when she breathed her last, the boy 
Adeodatus burst out into a loud lament; then, checked by 
us all, held his peace. In like manner also a childish feeling 
in me, which was, through my heart's youthful voice, finding 

6 — HC vn 



162 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

its vent in weeping, was checked and silenced. For we 
thought it not fitting to solemnise that funeral with tearful 
lament, and groanings ; for thereby do they for the most part 
express grief for the departed, as though unhappy, or alto- 
gether dead ; whereas she was neither unhappy in her death, 
nor altogether dead. Of this we were assured on good 
grounds, the testimony of her good conversation and her 
faith unfeigned. 

What then was it which did grievously pain me within, 
but a fresh wound wrought through the sudden wrench of 
that most sweet and dear custom of living together? I 
joyed indeed in her testimony, when, in that her last sickness, 
mingling her endearments with my acts of duty, she called 
me " dutiful," and mentioned, with great affection of love, 
that she never had heard any harsh or reproachful sound 
uttered by my mouth against her. But yet, O my God, Who 
madest us, what comparison is there betwixt that honour 
that I paid to her, and her slavery for me? Being then 
forsaken of so great comfort in her, my soul was wounded, 
and that life rent asunder as it were, which, of hers and 
mine together, had been made but one. 

The boy then being stilled from weeping, Euodius took 
up the Psalter, and began to sing, our whole house answer- 
ing him, the Psalm, / will sing of mercy and judgment to 
Thee, O Lord.*^ But hearing what we were doing, many 
brethren and religious women came together; and whilst 
they (whose office it was) made ready for the burial, 
as the manner is, I (in a part of the house, where I might 
properly), together with those who thought not fit to leave 
me, discoursed upon something fitting the time; and by this 
balm of truth assuaged that torment, known to Thee, they 
unknowing and listening intently, and conceiving me to be 
without all sense of sorrow. But in Thy ears, where none 
of them heard, I blamed the weakness of my feelings, and 
refrained my flood of grief, which gave way a little unto 
me; but again came, as with a tide, yet not so as to burst 
out into tears, nor to a change of countenance; still I knew 
what I was keeping down in my heart. And being very 
much displeased that these human things had such power 

«P8. Ci. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 163 

over me, which in the due order and appointment of our 
natural condition must needs come to pass, with a new grief 
I grieved for my grief, and was thus worn by a double 
sorrow. 

And behold, the corpse was carried to the burial; we 
went and returned without tears. For neither in those 
prayers which we poured forth unto Thee, when the Sacri- 
fice of our ransom was offered for her, when now the corpse 
was by the grave's side, as the manner there is, previous 
to its being laid therein, did I weep even during those 
prayers; yet was I the whole day in secret heavily sad, and 
with troubled mind prayed Thee, as I could, to heal my 
sorrow, yet Thou didst not; impressing, I believe, upon my 
memory by this one instance, how strong is the bond of all 
habit, even upon a soul, which now feeds upon no deceiving 
Word. It seemed also good to me to go and bathe, having 
heard that the bath had its name (balneum) from the Greek 
^aXaveJov, for that it drives sadness from the mind. And 
this also I confess unto Thy mercy. Father of the fatherless" 
that I bathed, and was the same as before I bathed. For 
the bitterness of sorrow could not exude out of my heart. 
Then I slept, and woke up again, and found my grief not 
a little softened; and as I was alone in my bed, I remem- 
bered those true verses of Thy Ambrose. For Thou art the 

" Maker of all, the Lord, 
And Ruler of the height. 
Who, robing day in light, hast poured 
Soft slumbers o'er the night. 

That to our limbs the power 

Of toil may be renew'd, 
And hearts be rais'd that sink and cower. 

And sorrows be subdu'd." 

And then by little and little I recovered my former 
thoughts of Thy handmaid, her holy conversation towards 
Thee, her holy tenderness and observance towards us, 
whereof I was suddenly deprived: and I was minded to 
weep in Thy sight, for her and for myself, in her behalf 
and in my own. And I gave way to the tears which I 

*^ Ps. Ixviii. 5. 



164 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

before restrained, to overflow as much as they desired; 
reposing my heart upon them; and it found rest in them, 
for it was in Thy ears not in those of man, who would 
have scornfully interpreted my weeping. And now. Lord, 
in writing I confess it unto Thee. Read it, who will, and 
interpret it, how he will: and if he finds sin therein, that 
I wept my mother for a small portion of an hour (the 
mother who for the time was dead to mine eyes, who had 
for many years wept for me that I might live in Thine 
eyes), let him not deride me; but rather, if he be one of 
large charity, let him weep himself for my sins unto Thee, 
the Father of all the brethren of Thy Christ. 

But now, with a heart cured of that wound, wherein it 
might seem blameworthy for an earthly feeling, I pour out 
unto Thee, our God, in behalf of that Thy handmaid, a far 
different kind of tears, flowing from a spirit shaken by the 
thoughts of the dangers of every soul that dieth in Adam.*' 
And although she having been quickened in Christ, even 
before her release from the flesh, had lived to the praise 
of Thy name for her faith and conversation; yet dare I not 
say that from what time Thou regeneratedst her by bap- 
tism, no word issued from her mouth against Thy Com- 
mandment.** Thy Son, the Truth, hath said. Whosoever 
shall say unto his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of 
hell Hre.^ And woe be even unto the commendable life of 
men, if, laying aside mercy. Thou shouldest examine it. 
But because Thou art not extreme in enquiring after sins, 
we confidently hope to find some place with Thee. But 
whosoever reckons up his real merits to Thee, what reckons 
he up to Thee but Thine own gifts? O that men would 
know themselves to be men ; and that he that glorieth would 
glory in the Lord^ 

I therefore, O my Praise and my Life, God of my heart, 
laying aside for a while her good deeds, for which I give 
thanks to Thee with joy, do now beseech Thee for the sins 
of my mother. Hearken unto me, I entreat Thee, by the 
Medicine of our wounds, Who hung upon the tree, and 
now sitting at Thy right hand maketh intercession to Thee 

*■ 1 Cor. XV. 22. «• Matt. xii. 36. " Matt. v. 2a, 
" I Cor. X. 17. 



THE CONFESSIONS OP ST. AUGUSTINE 165 

for iis^^ I know that she dealt mercifully, and from her 
heart forgave her debtors their debts; do Thou also forgive 
her debts!^ whatever she may have contracted in so many 
years, since the water of salvation. Forgive her, Lord, 
forgive, I beseech Thee; enter not into the judgment with 
her^ Let Thy mercy be exalted above Thy justice^ since 
Thy words are true, and Thou hast promised mercy unto 
the merciful;^ which thou gavest them to be, who wilt have 
mercy on whom Thou wilt have mercy; and wilt have com' 
passion on whom Thou hast had compassion" 

And, I believe. Thou hast already done what I ask; 
but accept^ O Lord, the free-will offerings of my mouth!^ 
For she, the day of her dissolution now at hand, took no 
thought to have her body sumptuously wound up, or em- 
balmed with spices; nor desired she a choice monument, 
or to be buried in her own land. These things she en- 
joined us not; but desired only to have her name com- 
memorated at Thy Altar, which she had served without 
intermission of one day: whence she knew that holy Sacri- 
fice to be dispensed, by which the hand-writing that was 
against us is blotted out;^ through which the enemy was 
triumphed over, who summing up our offences, and seeking 
what to lay to our charge, found nothing in Him^ in Whom 
we conquer. Who shall restore to Him the innocent blood? 
Who repay Him the price wherewith He bought us, and 
so take us from Him? Unto the Sacrament of which our 
ransom. Thy handmaid bound her soul by the bond of 
faith. Let none sever her from Thy protection: let neither 
the lion nor the dragon'^ interpose himself by force or fraud. 
For she will not answer that she owes nothing, lest she 
be convicted and seized by the crafty accuser: but she will 
answer that her sins are forgiven her by Him, to Whom 
none can repay that price which He, Who owed nothing, 
paid for us. 

May she rest then in peace with the husband before and 
after whom she had never any; whom she obeyed, with 
patience bringing forth fruit^ unto Thee, that she might 
win him also unto Thee. And inspire, O Lord my God, 

^-Rom. viii. 34. ""s Matt, xviii. 35; vi. 12. " Ps. cxHii. 2. 

^ James ii. 13. ^ Matt. v. 7. ^7 Rqui. ix. 15. ^ Ps. cxix. 108. 
»Col. ii. 14. «>John xiv. 30. « Ps. xci. i; a^ Lukg yjii. 15. 



166 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

inspire Thy servants my brethren, Thy sons ray masters, 
whom with voice and heart, and pen I serve, that so many 
as shall read these Confessions, may at Thy Altar remember 
Monnica Thy handmaid, with Patricias, her sometimes hus- 
band, by whose bodies Thou broughtest me into this life, 
how, I know not. May they with devout affection remember 
my parents in this transitory light, my brethren under 
Thee our Father in our Catholic Mother, and my fellow- 
citizens in that eternal Jerusalem which Thy pilgrim people 
sigheth after from their Exodus, even unto their return 
thither. That so my mother's last request of me, may 
through my Confessions, more than through my prayers, 
be, through the prayers of many, more abundantly ful- 
filled to her. 



THE TENTH BOOK 

Having in the former books spoken of himself before his receiving 
the grace of Baptism, in this Augustine confesses what he then 
was. But first, he enquires by what faculty we can know God 
at all, whence he enlarges on the mysterious character of the 
memory, wherein God, being made known, dwells, but which 
could not discover Him. Then he examines his own trials under 
the triple division of temptation, "lust of the flesh, lust of the 
eyes, and pride" ; what Christian continency prescribes as to 
each. On Christ the Only Mediator, who heals and will heal 
all infirmities 

1ET me know Thee, O Lord, who knowest me; let me 
. know Thee, as I am known.^ Power of my soul, enter 
■ into it, and fit it for Thee, that Thou mayest have and 
hold it without spot or wrinkle.^ This is my hope, there- 
fore do I speak f and in this hope do I rejoice, when I 
rejoice healthfully. Other things of this life are the less 
to be sorrowed for, the more they are sorrowed for; and 
the more to be sorrowed for, the less men sorrow for them. 
For behold, Thou lovest the truth* and he tliat doth it, com- 
eth to the light.^ This would I do in my heart before Thee 
in confession : and in my writing, before many witnesses. 

And from Thee, O Lord, unto whose eyes* the abyss of 
man's conscience is naked, what could be hidden in me 
though I would not confess it? For I should hide Thee 
from me, not me from Thee. But now, for that my groaning 
is witness, that I am displeased with myself. Thou shinest 
out, and art pleasing, and beloved, and longed for; that I 
may be ashamed of myself, and renounce myself, and choose 
Thee, and neither please Thee nor myself, but in Thee. To 
Thee therefore, O Lord, am I open, whatever I am; and 
with what fruit I confess unto Thee, I have said. Nor do 
I it with words and sounds of the flesh, but with the words 

ij Cor. xiii. 12. "Eph. v. 27. ' Ps. cxvi. 10. * Ps. li. 6. 
<^ John iii. 20. " Heb. iv. 13- 

167 



168 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

of my soul, and the cry of the thought which Thy ear 
knoweth. For when I am evil, then to confess to Thee is 
nothing else than to be displeased with myself; but when 
holy, nothing else than not to ascribe it to myself: because 
Thou, O Lord, blessest the godly,'' but first Thou justiHest 
him when ungodly^ My confession then, O my God, in Thy 
sight, is made silently, and not silently. For in sound, it is 
silent; in affection, it cries aloud. For neither do I utter 
any thing right unto men, which Thou hast not before 
heard from me ; nor dost Thou hear any such thing from me, 
which Thou hast not first said unto me. 

What then have I to do with men, that they should hear 
my confessions — as if they could heal all my infirmities' — 
a race, curious to know the lives of others, slothful to 
amend their own? Why seek they to hear from me what 
I am; who will not hear from Thee what themselves are? 
And how know they, when from myself they hear of my- 
self, whether I say true; seeing no man knows what is in 
man, but the spirit of man which is in himf^" But if they 
hear from Thee themselves, they cannot say, " The Lord 
lieth." For what is it to hear from Thee of themselves, but 
to know themselves? and who knoweth and saith, "It is 
false," unless himself lieth? But because charity helieveth 
all things^ (that is, among those whom knitting unto itself 
it maketh one), I also, O Lord, will in such wise confess 
unto Thee, that men may hear, to whom I cannot demon- 
strate whether I confess truly; yet they believe me, whose 
ears charity openeth unto me. 

But do Thou, my inmost Physician, make plain unto me 
what object I may gain by doing it. For the confessions of 
my past sins, which Thou hast forgiven and covered^'^ that 
Thou mightest bless me in Thee, changing my soul by 
Faith and Thy Sacrament, when read and heard, stir up the 
heart, that it sleep not in despair and say " I cannot," but 
awake in the love of Thy mercy and the sweetness of Thy 
grace, whereby whoso is weak, is strong, when by it he be- 
came conscious of his own weakness. And the good delight 
to hear of the past evils of such as are now freed from 

'Ps. V. 12. •Rom. iv. s. • Ps. ciii. 3. '<" 1 Cor. ii. 11. 
" Ibid. xiii. 7. " Ps. xxxii. i. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 169 

them, not because they are evils, but because they have been] 
and are not. With what object, then, O Lord my God, to I 
Whom my conscience daily confesseth, trusting more in the! 
hope of Thy mercy than in her own innocency, with what' 
object, I pray, do I by this book confess to men also in Thy 
presence what I now am, not what I have been? For that 
other object I have seen and spoken of. But what I now 
am, at the very time of making these confessions, divers 
desire to know, who have or have not known me, who have 
heard from me or of me; but their ear is not at my heart, 
where I am, whatev<';r I am. They wish then to hear me 
confess what I am within; whither neither their eye, nor 
ear, nor understanding can reach; they wish it, as ready to 
believe — but will they know? For charity, whereby they 
are good, telleth them that in my confessions I lie not; and 
she in them, believeth me. 

But for what object would they hear this? Do they desire 
to joy with me, when they hear how near, by Thy gift, I 
approach unto Thee? and to pray for me, when they shall 
hear how much I am held back by my own weight ? To such 
will I discover myself. For it is no mean object, O Lord 
my God, that by many thanks should be given to Thee on our 
behalf^ and Thou be by many entreated for us. Let the 
brotherly mind love in me what Thou teachest is to be 
loved, and lament in me what Thou teachest is to be 
lamented. Let a brotherly, not a stranger, mind, not that 
of the strange children, whose mouth talkcth of vanity, and 
their right hand is a right hand of iniquity^*' but that 
brotherly mind which when it approveth rejoiceth for me, and 
when it disapproveth me, is sorry for me; because whether 
it approveth or disapproveth, it loveth me. To such will I 
discover myself: they will breathe freely at my good deeds, 
sigh for my ill. My deeds are Thine appointments and Thy 
gifts; my evil ones are my offences, and Thy judgments. 
Let them breathe freely at the one, sigh at the other; and 
let hymns and weeping go up into Thy sight out of the 
hearts of my brethren, Thy censers^" And do Thou, O 
Lord, be pleased with the incense of Thy holy temple, have 
mercy upon me according to Thy great mercy for Thine own 

"i Cor. ii. II. "Ps. cxUv. ii. ^^ Rev. viii. 3- 



170 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

name's sake;^* and no ways forsaking what Thou hast be- 
gun, perfect my imperfections. 

This is the object of my confessions of what I am, not 
of what I have been, to confess this, not before Thee only, 
in a secret exultation with trembling" and a secret sorrow 
with hope; but in the ears also of the believing sons of 
men, sharers of my joy, and partners in my mortality, my 
fellow-citizens, and fellow-pilgrims, who are gone before, 
or are to follow on, companions of my way. These are Thy 
servants, my brethren, whom Thou wiliest to be Thy sons; 
my masters, whom Thou commandest me to serve, if I would 
' live with Thee, of Thee. But this Thy Word were little 
did it only command by speaking and not go before in per- 
forming. This then I do in deed and word, this I do under 
Thy wings; in over great peril, were not my soul subdued 
unto Thee under Thy wings, and my infirmity known unto 
Thee. I am a little one, but my Father ever liveth, and my 
Guardian is sufficient for me. For he is the same who begat 
me, and defends me: and Thou Thyself art all my good; 
Thou, Almighty, Who art with me, yea, before I am with 
Thee. To such then whom Thou commandest me to serve 
will I discover, not what I have been, but what I now am 
and what I yet am. But neither do I judge myself.^ Thus 
therefore I would be heard. 

For Thou, Lord, dost judge me^'* because, although no 
man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man 
which is in him, yet is there something of man, which 
neither the spirit of man tliat is in him, itself knoweth.^ But 
Thou, Lord, knowest all of him, Who hast made him. Yet 
I, though in Thy sight I despise myself, and account myself 
dust and ashes; yet know I something of Thee, which I 
know not of myself. And truly, now we see through a glass 
darkly, not face to fac^ as yet. So long therefore as / be 
absent from Thee,'"' I am more present with myself than with 
Thee, and yet know I Thee that Thou art in no ways passible ; 
but I, what temptations I can resist, what I cannot, I know 
not. And there is hope, because Thou art faithful, Who 
wilt not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able; but 

"Ps. U. I. "Ps. ii. II. "I Cor. iv. 3. ^ Ibid. 
*^ Ibid. li. II. '^ Ibid. xiil. la. "2 Cor. v. 6. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 171 

wilt with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we 
may be able to hear it.^ I will confess then what I know of 
myself, I will confess also what I know not of myself. And 
that because what I do know of myself, I know by Thy shin- 
ing upon me ; and what I know not of myself, so long know 
I not it, until my darkness be made as the noon-day'^ in Thy 
countenance. 

Not with doubting, but with assured consciousness, do I 
love Thee, Lord. Thou hast stricken my heart with Thy 
word, and I loved Thee. Yea also heaven and earth, and 
all that therein is, behold on every side they bid me love 
Thee ; nor cease to say so unto all, that they may be without 
excuse. But more deeply wilt Thou have mercy on whom 
Thou wilt have mercy, and wilt have compassion on whom 
Thou hast had compassion.-^ else i4i_ii£ai_eara_4othe heaven 
a nd t jie earth speak Thy praises ^- But what do iTovS, WhSri" 
I love~Tnee? not beauty of bodies, nor the fair harmony of 
time, nor the brightness of the light, so gladsome to our eyes, 
nor sweet melodies of varied songs, nor the fragrant smell 
of flowers, and ointments, and spices, not manna and honey, 
not limbs acceptable to embracements of flesh. None of these 
I love, when I love my God; and yet I love a kind of light, 
and melody, and fragrance, and meat, and enibracement 
when I love my God, the light, melody, fragrance, meat, 
embracement of my inner man: where there shineth unto 
my soul what space cannot contain and there soundeth 
what time beareth not away, and there smelleth what breath- 
ing disperseth not, and there tasteth what eating diminisheth 
not, and there clingeth what satiety divorceth not. This is 
it which I love when I love my God. 

And what is this? I asked the earth, and it answered me, 
" I am not He ; " and whatsoever are in it confessed the 
same. I asked the sea and the deeps, and the living creeping 
things, and they answered, " We are not Thy God, seek 
above us." I asked the moving air; and the whole air with 
his inhabitants answered, "Anaximenes was deceived, I am 
not God." I asked the heavens, sun, moon, stars, " Nor 
(say they) are we the God whom thou seekest." And I 
replied unto all the things which encompass the door of my 

** I Cor. X. 3. «* Isa. Iviii. 10. ^ Rom. i. zo; ix. 15. 



172 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

flesh : " Ye have told me of my God, that ye are not He ; tell 
me something of Him." And they cried out with a loud 
voice, " He made us." My questioning them, was my 
thoughts on them : and their form of beauty gave the answer. 
And I turned myself unto myself, and said to myself, " Who 
art thou ? " And I answered, " A man." And behold, in me 
there present themselves to me soul, and body, one without, 
the other within. By which of these ought I to seek my 
God? I had sought Him in the body from earth to heaven, 
so far as I could send messengers, the beams of mine eyes. 
But the better is the inner, for to it as presiding and judg- 
ing, all the bodily messengers reported the answers of 
heaven and earth, and all things therein, who said, " We 
are not God, but He made us." These things did my 
inner man know by the ministry of the outer: I the 
inner knew them; I, the mind, through the senses of my 
body. I asked the whole frame of the world about my 
God ; and it answered me, " I am not He, but He made 
me. 

Is not this corporeal figure apparent to all whose senses 
are perfect? why then speaks it not the same to all? Ani- 
mals small and great see it, but they cannot ask it: because 
no reason is set over their senses to judge on what they 
report. But men ask, so that the invisible things of God 
are clearly seen, being understood by the things that arc 
made;^ but by love of them, they are made subject unto 
them: and subjects cannot judge. Nor yet do the creatures 
answer such as ask, unless they can judge: nor yet do they 
change their voice (i. c, their appearance), if one man only 
sees, another seeing asks, so as to appear one way to this 
man, another way to that; but appearing the same way to 
both, it is dumb to this, speaks to that; yea rather it speaks 
to all; but they only understand, who compare its voice 
received from without, with the truth within. For truth 
saith unto me, " Neither heaven, nor earth, nor any other 
body is thy God." This, their very nature saith to him that 
seeth them : " They are a mass ; a mass is less in a part 
thereof than in the whole." Now to thee I speak, O my 
soul, thou art my better part: for thou quickenest the mass 

^ Rom. i. 20. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 173 

of my body, giving it life, which no body can give to a body : 
but thy God is even unto thee the Life of thy life. 

What then do I love, when I love my God? who is He 
above the head of my soul? By my very soul will I ascend 
to Him. I will pass beyond that power whereby I am united 
to my body, and fill its whole frame with life. Nor can I 
by that power find my God; for so horse and mule that have 
no understanding,^ might find Him; seeing it is the 
same power, whereby even their bodies live. But another 
power there is, not that only whereby I animate, but that too 
whereby I imbue with sense my flesh, which the Lord hath 
framed for me : commanding the eye not to hear, and the ear 
not to see; but the eye, that through it I should see, and 
the ear, that through it I should hear; and to the other 
senses severally, what is to each their own peculiar seats and 
offices ; which, being divers, I the one mind, do through them 
enact. I will pass beyond this power of mine also ; for 
this also have the horse and mule, for they also perceive 
through the body. __ 

I will pass then beyond this power of my nature also, 
rising by degrees unto Him who made me. And I come to 
the fields and spacious palaces of my memory, where are 
the treasures of innumerable images, brought into it from 
things of all sorts perceived by the senses. There is stored 
up, whatsoever besides we think, either by enlarging or di- 
minishing, or any other way varying those things which the 
sense hath come to; and whatever else hath been committed 
and laid up, which forgetfulness hath not yet swallowed 
up and buried. When I enter there, I require what I will 
to be brought forth, and something instantly comes; others 
must be longer sought after, which are fetched, as it were, 
out of some inner receptacle; others rush out in troops, and 
while one thing is desired and required, they start forth, 
as who should say, " Is it perchance I ? " These I driv& 
away with the hand of my heart, from the face of my re- 
membrance; until what I wish for be unveiled, and appear 
in sight, out of its secret place. Other things come up read- 
ily, in unbroken order, as they are called for; those in front 
making way for the following; and as they make way, 

" Ps. xxxii. 9. 



174 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

they are hidden from sight, ready to come when I will. All 
which takes place when I repeat a thing by heart. 

There are all things preserved distinctly and under gen- 
eral heads, each having entered by its own avenue: as light, 
and all colours and forms of bodies by the eyes; by the 
ears all sorts of sounds; all smells by the avenue of the 
nostrils; all tastes by the mouth; and by the sensation of 
the whole body, what is hard or soft; hot or cold; smooth 
or rugged; heavy or light; either outwardly or inwardly to 
the body. All these doth that great harbour of the memory 
receive in her numberless secret and inexpressible windings, 
to be forthcoming, and brought out at need; each entering 
in by his own gate, and there laid up. Nor yet do the things 
themselves enter in ; only the images of the things perceived 
are there in readiness, for thought to recall. Which images, 
how they are formed, who can tell, though it doth plainly 
appear by which sense each hath been brought in and stored 
up? For even while I dwell in darkness and in silence, in 
my memory I can produce colours, if I will, and discern be- 
twixt black and white, and what others I will: nor yet do 
sounds break in and disturb the image drawn in by my eyes, 
which I am reviewing, though they also are there, lying 
dormant, and laid up, as it were, apart. For these too I 
call for, and forthwith they appear. And though my tongue 
be still, and my throat mute, so can I sing as much as I will ; 
nor do those images of colours, which notwithstanding be 
there, intrude themselves and interrupt, when another store 
is called for, which flowed in by the ears. So the other 
things, piled in and up by the other senses, I recall at my 
pleasure. Yea, I discern the breath of lilies from violets, 
though smelling nothing; and I prefer honey to sweet wine, 
smooth before rugged, at the time neither tasting nor han- 
dling, but remembering only. 

These things do I within, in that vast court of my memory. 
For there are present with me, heaven, eart hy sea, and w hat- 
ever i coma tni nic on t herein, besideg jdiajtj have Jotgottetu 
There also meeTl with myseH, and recall myself, and when, 
where, and what I have done, and under what feelings. 
There be all which I remember, either on my own experience, 
or others' credit. Out of the same store do I myself with the 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 17S 

past continually combine fresh and fresh likenesses of things 
which I have experienced, or, from what I have experienced, 
have believed: and thence again infer future actions, events 
and hopes, and all these again I reflect on, as present. " I will 
do this or that," say I to myself, in that great receptacle of 
-ny mind, stored with the images of things so many and so 
great, "and this or that will follow." " O that this or that 
might be ! " " God avert this or that ! " So speak I to 
myself: and when I speak, the images of all I speak of are 
present, out of the same treasury of memory; nor would I 
speak of any thereof, were the images wanting. 

Great is this force of memory, excessive great, O my God ; 
a large and boundless chamber ! who ever sounded the bottom 
thereof? yet is this a power of mine, and belongs unto my 
nature; nor do I myself comprehend all that I am. There- 
fore is the mind too strait to contain itself. And where should 
that be, which it containeth not of itself? Is it without it, 
and not within ? how then doth it not comprehend itself ? A 
wonderful admiration surprises me, amazement seizes me 
upon this. And men go abroad to admire the heights of 
mountains, the mighty billows of the sea, the broad tides of 
rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, 
and pass themselves by ; nor wonder that when I spake of all 
these things, I did not see them with mine eyes, yet could not 
have spoken of them, unless I then actually saw the moun- 
tains, billows, rivers, stars which I had seen, and that ocean 
which I believe to be, inwardly in my memory, and that, with 
the same vast spaces between, as if I saw them abroad. Yet 
did not I by seeing draw them into myself, when with mine 
eyes I beheld them; nor are they themselves with me, but 
their images only. And I know by what sense of the body 
each was impressed upon me. 

Yet not these alone does the unmeasurable capacity of my 
memory retain. Here also is all, learnt of the liberal sciences 
and as yet unforgotten; removed as it were to some inner 
place, which is yet no place : nor are they the images thereof, 
but the things themselves. For, what is literature, what the 
art of disputing, how many kinds of questions there be, what- 
soever of these I know, in such manner exists in my memory, 
as that I have not taken in the image, and left out the thing. 



176 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

or that it should have sounded and passed away like a voice 
fixed on the ear by that impress, whereby it might be recalled, 
as if it sounded, when it no longer sounded; or as a smell 
while it passes and evaporates into air affects the sense of 
smell, whence it conveys into the memory an image of itself, 
which remembering, we renew, or as meat, which verily in 
the belly hath now no taste, and yet in the memory still in a 
manner tasteth; or as any thing which the body by touch 
perceiveth, and which when removed from us, the memory 
still conceives. For those things are not transmitted into the 
memory, but their images only are with an admirable swift- 
ness caught up, and stored as it were in wondrous cabinets, 
and thence wonderfully by the act of remembering, brought 
forth. 

But now when I hear that there be three kinds of ques- 
tions, "Whether the thing be ? what it is ? of what kind it is ?" 
I do indeed hold the images of the sounds of which those 
words be composed, anwIPfiat those sounds, with a noise passed 
through the air, and now are not. But the things themselves 
which are signified by those sounds, I never reached with any 
sense of my body, nor even discerned them otherwise than in 
my mind ; yet in my memory have I laid up not their images, 
but themselves. Which how they entered into me, let them 
say if they can ; for I have gone over all the avenues of my 
flesh, but cannot find by which they entered. For the eyes 
say, " if those images were coloured, we reported of them." 
The ears say, " if they sound, we gave knowledge of them." 
The nostrils say, " if they smell, they passed by us." The 
taste says, " unless they have a savour, ask me not." The 
touch says, "if it have not size, I handled it not; if I handled 
it not, I gave no notice of it." Whence and how entered 
these things into my memory? I know not how. For when 
I learned them, I gave no credit to another man's mind, but 
recognized them in mine; and approving them for true, I 
commended them to it, laying them up as it were, whence I 
might bring them forth when I willed. In my heart then 
they were, even before I learned them, but in my memory 
they were not. Where then ? or wherefore, when they were 
spoken, did I acknowledge them, and said, "So is it, it is 
true," unless that they were already in the memory, but so 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 177 

th rown back and buried as it were in deeper recesses^that 
lTa3 nonttrisTiggestron"^ ""another - drawa-^effi-fSftlTl ' had 
perchance been unable to conceive of them ? 

Wherefore we find, that to learn these things whereof we 
imbibe not the images by our senses, but perceive within by 
themselves, without images, as they are, is nothing else, but 
by conception to receive, and by marking to take heed that 
those things which the memory did before contain at random 
and unarranged, be laid up at hand as it were in that same 
memory where before they lay unknown, scattered and 
neglected, and so readily occur to the mind familiarised to 
them. And how many things of this kind does my memofy 
bear which have been already found out, and as I said, placed 
as it were at hand, which we are said to have learned and 
come to know ; which were I for some short space of time 
to cease to call to mind, they are again so buried, and glide 
back, as it were, into the deeper recesses, that they must 
again, as if new, be thought out thence, for other abode they 
have none : but they must be drawn together again, that they 
may be known: that is to say, they must as it were be col- 
lected together from their dispersion: whence the word 
"cogitation" is derived. For cogo (collect) and cogito (re- 
collect) have the same relation to each other as ago and 
ogiio, facio and factito. But the mind hath appropriated to 
itself this word (cogitation), so that, not what is "collected" 
any how, but what is "re-collected," i.e., brought together, 
in the mind, is properly said to be cogitated, or thought 
upon. 

The memory containeth also reasons and laws innumerable 
of numbers and dimensions, none of which hath any bodily 
sense impressed ; seeing they have neither colour, nor sound, 
nor taste, nor smell, nor touch. I have heard the sound of 
the words whereby when discussed they are denoted: but 
the sounds are other than the things. For the sounds are 
other in Greek than in Latin; but the things are neither 
Greek, nor Latin, nor any other language. I have seen the 
lines of architects, the very finest, like a spider's thread ; but 
those are still different, they are not the images of those 
lines which the eye of flesh showed me: he knoweth them, 
whosoever ^vithout any conception whatsoever of a body. 



178 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

recognises them within himself. I have perceived also the 
numbers of the things with which we number all the senses 
of my body; but those numbers wherewith we number are 
different, nor are they the images of these, and therefore 
they indeed are. Let him who seeth them not, deride me for 
saying these things, and I will pity him, whil^e derides me. 

All these things I remember, and how I learnt tkem I re- 
member. Many things also most falsely objected against 
them have I heard, and remember; which though they be 
false, yet is it not false that I remember them; and I re- 
member also that I have discerned betwixt those truths and 
these falsehoods objected to them. And I perceive that the 
present discerning of these things is different from remem- 
bering that I oftentimes discerned them, when I often thought 
upon them. I both remember then to have often understood 
these things; and what I now discern and understand, I lay 
up in my memory, that hereafter I may remember that I 
understood it now. So then I remember also to have remem- 
bered ; as if hereafter I shall call to remembrance, that I have 
now been able to remember these things, by the force of 
memory shall I call it to remembrance. 

The same memory contains also the affections of my mind, 
not in the same manner that my mind itself contains them, 
when it feels them; but far otherwisCj^according to a power 
of its own. For without rejoicing I remember myself to 
have joyed; and without sorrow do I recollect my ^ast sor- 
row. And that I once feared, I review without fear; and 
without desire call to mind a past desire. Sometimes, on the 
contrary, with joy do I remember my fore-past sorrow, and 
with sorrow, joy. Which is not wonderful, as to the body; 
for mind is one thing, body another. If I therefore with joy 
remember some past pain of body, it is not so wonderful. 
But now seeing this very memory itself is mind (for when 
we give a thing in charge, to be kept in memory, we say, 
"See that you keep it in mind;" and when we forget, we 
say, "It did not come to my mind," and, "It slipped out of 
my mind," calling the memory itself the mind) ; this being 
so, how is it that when with joy I remember my past sorrow, 
the mind hath joy, the memory hath sorrow ; the mind upon 
the joy fulness which is in it, is joyful, yet the memory upon 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 179 

the sadness which is in it, is not sad? Does the memory 
perchance not belong to the mind ? Who will say so ? The 
memory then is, as it were, the belly of the mind, and joy 
and sadness, like sweet and bitter food; which, when com- ; 
mitted to the memory, are, as it were, passed into the belly, ) 
where they may be stowed, but cannot taste. Ridiculous it I 
is to imagine these to be alike ; and yet are they not utterly f 
unlike. 

But, behold, out of my memory I bring it, when I say 
there be four perturbations of the mind, desire, joy, fear, 
sorrow : and whatsoever I can dispute thereon, by dividing 
each into its subordinate species, and by defining it, in my 
memory find I what to say, and thence do I bring it: yet 
am I not disturbed by any of these perturbations, when by 
calling them to mind, I remember them; yea, and before I 
recalled and brought them back, they were there ; and there- 
fore could they, by recollection, thence be brought. Per- , 
chance, then, as meat is by chewing the cud brought up out 
of the belly, so by recollection these out of the memory. 
Why then does not the disputer, thus recollecting, taste in \ 
the mouth of his musing the sweetness of joy, or the bitter- 
ness of sorrow? Is the comparison unlike in this, because 
not in all respects like? For who would willingly speak 
thereof, if so oft as we name grief or fear^ we should be 
.compelled to be sad or fearful ? And yet could we not speak \ 
of them, did we not find in our memory, not only the sounds \ 
of the names according to the images impressed by the senses 
of the body, but notions of the very things themselves which 
we never received by any avenue of the body, but which the 
mind itself perceiving by the experience of its own passions, 
committed to the memory, or the memory of itself retained, J 
^without being committed unto. 

But whether by images or no, who can readily say? Thus, 
I name a stone, I name the sun, the things themselves not 
being present to my senses, but their images to my memory. 
I name a bodily pain, yet it is not present with me, when 
nothing aches: yet unless its image were present in my 
memory, I should not know what to say thereof, nor in dis- 
coursing discern pain from pleasure. I name bodily health; 
being sound in body, the thing itself is present with, me; 



180 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

yet, unless its image also were present in my memory, I could 
by no means recall what the sound of this name should 
signify. Nor would the sick, when health were named, rec- 
ognise what were spoken, unless the same image were by 
the force of memory retained, although the thing itself were 
absent from the body. I name numbers whereby we num- 
ber; and not their images, but themselves are present in my 
memory. I name the image of the sun, and that image is 
present in my memory. For I recall not the image of its 
image, but the image itself is present to me, calling it to 
mind. I name memory, and I recognize what I name. And 
where do I recognise it, but in the memory itself? Is it also 
present to itself by its image, and not by itself? 

What, when I name forgetfulness, and withal recognise 
what I name? whence should I recognize it, did I not re- 
member it? I speak not of the sound of the name, but of the 
thing which it signifies : which if I had forgotten I could not 
recognise what that sound signifies. When then I remember 
memory, memory itself is, through itself, present with itself : 
but when I remember forgetfulness, there are present both 
memory and forgetfulness; memory whereby I remember, 
forgetfulness which I remember. But what is forgetfulness, 
but the privation of memory? How then is it present that 
I remember it, since when present I cannot remember? But 
if what we remember we hold it in memory, yet, unless we 
did remember forgetfulness, we could never at the hearing 
of the name recognise the thing thereby signified, then for- 
getfulness is retained by memory. Present then it is, that 
we forget not, and being so, we forget It is to be under- 
stood from this that forgetfulness, when we remember it, 
is not present to the memory by itself, but by its image : be- 
cause if it were present by itself, it would not cause us to 
remember, but to forget. Who now shall search out this? 
who shall comprehend how it is? 

Lord, I, truly, toil therein, yea and toil in myself; I am 
become a heavy soil requiring over much sweat of the brow. 
For we are not now searching out the regions of heaven, or 
measuring the distances of the stars, or enquiring the bal- 
ancings of the earth. It is I myself who remember, I the 
mind. It is not so wonderful, if what I myself am not, be 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 181 

far from me. But what is nearer to me than myself? And 
lo, the force of mine own memory is not understood by me; 
though I cannot so much as name myself without it. For 
what shall I say, when it is clear to me that I remember for- 
getfulness? Shall I say that that is not in mv memory. 
which I remember? or shall I say that fore^etfulness is for 



th is purpose in^ny memory, that 1 might not forge t? Both 
were most absurd. What third way is there? How can I 
say that the image of forgetfulness is retained by my 
memory, not forgetfulness itself, when I remember it? How 
could I say this either, seeing that when the image of any 
thing is impressed on the memory, the thing itself must needs 
be first present, whence that image may be impressed? For 
thus do I remember Carthage, thus all places where I have 
been, thus men's faces whom I have seen, and things re- 
ported by the other senses; thus the health or sickness of 
the body. For when these things were present, my memory 
received from them images, which, being present with me, 
I might look on and bring back in my mind, when I remem- 
bered them in their absence. If then this forgetfulness is 
retained in the memory through its image, not through itself, 
then plainly itself was once present, that its image might be 
taken. But when it was present, how did it write its image 
in the memory, seeing that forgetfulness by its presence 
effaces even what it finds already noted? And yet, in what- 
ever way, although that way be past conceiving and explain- 
ing, yet certain am I that I remember forgetfulness itself 
also, whereby what we remember is effaced. 

Great is the power of memory, a fearful thing, O my God, 
a deep and boundless manifoldness ; and this thing is the mind, 
and this am I myself. What am I then, O my God? What 
nature am I ? A life various and manifold, and exceeding 
immense. Behold in the plains, and caves, and caverns of 
my memory, innumerable and innumerably full of innu- 
merable kinds of things, either through images, as all bodies ; 
or by actual presence, as the arts; or by certain notions or 
impressions, as the affections of the mind, which, even when 
the mind doth not feel, the memory retaineth, while yet what- 
soever is in the memory is also in the mind — over all these 
do I run, I fly; I dive on this side and on that, as far as I 



182 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

can, and there is no end. So great is the force of memory, 
so great the force of life, even in the mortal life of man. 
What shall I do then, O Thou my true life, my God ? I will 
pass even beyond this ix)wer of mine which is called mem- 
ory: yea, I will pass beyond it, that I may approach unto 
Thee, O sweet Light. What sayest Thou to me ? See, I am 
mounting up through my mind towards Thee who abidest 
above me. Yea, I now will pass beyond this power of mine 
which is called memory, desirous to arrive at Thee, whence 
Thou mayest be arrived at ; g,nd to cleave unto Xhee, w heoce 
one may cleave unto Thefi> For even beasts and birds have 
memory felse could they not return to their dens and nests, 
nor many other things they are used unto : nor indeed could 
they be used to any thing, but by memory. I will pass then 
beyond memory also, that I may arrive at Him who hath 
separated me from the four-footed beasts and made me wiser 
than the fowls of the air, I will pass beyond memory also, 
and where shall I find Thee, Thou truly good and cer- 
tain sweetness? And where shall I find Thee? If I find 
Thee without my memory, then do I not retain Thee in 
my memory. And how shall I find Thee, if I remember 
Thee not? 

For the woman that had lost her groat, and sought it with 
a light; unless she had remembered it, she had never found 
it.* For when it was found, whence should she know 
whether it were the same, unless she remembered it? I re- 
member to have sought and found many a thing; and this I 
thereby know, that when I was seeking any of them, and was 
asked, " Is this it? " " Is that it?" so long said I " No," until 
that were oflfered me which I sought. Which had I not re- 
membered (whatever it were) though it were offered me, 
yet should I not find it, because I could not recognize it. And 
so it ever is, when we seek and find any lost thing. Not- 
withstanding, when any thing is by chance lost from the 
sight, not from the memory (as any visible body), yet its 
image is still retained within, and it is sought until it be 
restored to sight ; and when it is found, it is recognized by 
the image which is within : nor do we say that we have found 
what was lostj unless we recognize it; nor can we recognize 

"Luke XV. 8. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 183 

it, unless we remember it. But this was lost to the eyes, but 
retained in the memory. 

But what when the memory itself loses any thing, as falls f 
out when we forget and seek that we may recollect ? Where 
in the end do we search, but in the memory itself? and there, 1 
if one thing be perchance offered instead of another, we re- '. 
ject it, until what we seek meets us; and when it doth, we / 1 
say, " This is it;" which we should not unless we recognized 
it, nor recognize it unless we remembered it. Certainly then 
we had forgotten it. Or, had not the whole escaped us, but 
by the part whereof we had hold, was the lost part sought 
for ; in that the memory felt that it did not carry on together 
all which it was wont, and maimed, as it were, by the curtail- 
ment of its ancient habit, demanded the restoration of what 
it missed? For instance, if we see or think of some one 
known to us, and having forgotten his name, try to recover 
it; whatever else occurs, connects itself not therewith; be- 
cause it was not wont to be thought upon together with him, 
and therefore is rejected, until that present itself, whereon 
the knowledge reposes equably as its wonted object. And 
whence does that present itself, but out of the memory itself? • 
for even when we recognize it, on being reminded by an- 
other, it is thence it comes. For we do not believe it as j 
something new, but, upon recollection, allow what was named 1 
to be right. But were it utterly blotted out of the mind, we ! 
should not remember it, even when reminded. For we have j 
not as yet utterly forgotten that, which we remember our- j 
selves to have forgotten. What then we have utterly for- ' 
gotten, though lost, we cannot even seek after. ^fgf 

How then do I seek Thee, O Lord? For when I seek ' 
Thee, my God, I seek a happy life. / will seek Thee, that 
my soul may live. For my body liveth by my soul; and 
my soul by Thee. How then do I seek a happy life, seeing 
I have it not, until I can say, where I ought to say it, " It 
is enough " ? How seek I it ? By remembrance, as though 
I had forgotten it, remembering that I had forgotten it? 
Or, desiring to learn it as a thing unknown, either never 
having known, or so forgotten it, as not even to remember 
that I had forgotten it? is not a happy life what all will, 
and no one altogether wills it not? where have they known 



184 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

it, that they so vrill it? where seen it, that they so love it? 
Truly we have it, how, I know not. Yea, there is another 
way, wherein when one hath it, then is he happy; and there 
are, who are blessed in hope. These have it in a lower kind, 
than they who have it in very deed; yet are they better off 
than such as are happy neither in deed nor in hope. Yet 
even these, had they it not in some sort, would not so 
will to be happy, which that they do will, is most certain. 
They have known it then, I know not how, and so have 
it by some sort of knowledge, what, I know not, and am per- 
plexed whether it be in the memory, which if it be, then we 
have been happy once; whether all severally, or in that man 
who first sinned, in whom also we all diedj" and from 
whom we are all born with misery, I now enquire not; 
but only, whether the happy life be in the memory? For 
neither should we love it, did we not know it. We hear 
the name, and we all confess that we desire the thing; for 
we are not delighted with the mere sound. For when a 
Greek hears it in Latin, he is not delighted, not knowing 
what is spoken; but we Latins are delighted, as would he 
too, if he heard it in Greek; because the thing itself is neither 
Greek nor Latin, which Greeks and Latins, and men of all 
other tongues, long for so earnestly. Known therefore it 
is to all, for could they with one voice be asked, " would 
they be happy?" they would answer without doubt, "they 
would." And this could not be, unless the thing itself 
whereof it is the name were retained in their memor}'. 

But is it so, as one remembers Carthage who hath seen 
it? No. For a happy life is not seen with the eye, because 
it is not a body. As we remember numbers then ? No. For 
these, he that hath in his knowledge, seeks not further to 
attain unto; but a happy life we have in our knowledge 
and therefore love it, and yet still desire to attain it, that 
we may be happy. As we remember eloquence then? No. 
For although upon hearing this name also, some call 
to mind the thing, who still are not yet eloquent, and many 
who desire to be so, whence it appears that it is in their 
knowledge; yet these have by their bodily senses observed 
others to be eloquent, and been delighted, and desire to be 
«» I Cor. XV. 23. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 185 

the like (though indeed they would not be delighted but 
for some inward knowledge thereof, nor wish to be the 
like, unless they were thus delighted) ; whereas a happy 
life, we do by no bodily sense experience in others. As 
then we remember joy? Perchance; for my joy I remem- 
ber, even when sad, as a happy life, when unhappy; nor did 
I ever with bodily sense see, hear, smell, taste, or touch my 
joy; but I experienced it in my mind, when I rejoiced; and 
the knowledge of it clave to my memory, so that I can 
recall it with disgust sometimes, at others with longing, 
according to the nature of the things, wherein I remember 
myself to have joyed. For even from foul things have I 
been immersed in a sort of joy; which now recalling, 
I detest and execrate; otherwise in good and honest 
things, which I recall with longing, although perchance 
no longer present; and therefore with sadness I recall former 
joy. 

Where then and when did I experience my happy life, that 
I should remember, and love, and long for it? Nor is it 
I alone, or some few besides, but we all would fain be happy ; 
which, unless by some certain knowledge we knew, we should 
not with so certain a will desire. But how is this, that if 
two men be asked whether they would go to the wars, one, 
perchance would answer that he would, the other, that he 
would not; but if they were asked whether they would be 
happy, both would instantly without any doubting say they 
would; and for no other reason would the one go to the 
wars, and the other not, but to be happy. Is it perchance 
that as one looks for his joy in this thing, another in that, 
all agree in their desire of being happy, as they would (if 
they were asked) that they wished to have joy, and this 
joy they call a happy life? Although then one obtains this 
joy by one means, another by another, all have one end, 
which they strive to attain, namely, joy. Which being a 
thing which all must say they have experienced, it is there- 
fore found in the memory, and recognised whenever the 
name of a happy life is mentioned. 

Far be it. Lord, far be it from the heart of Thy servant 
who here confesseth unto Thee, far be it, that, be the joy 
what it may, I should therefore think myself happy. For 



186 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

there is a joy which is not given to the ungodly^ but to 
those who love Thee for Thine own sake, whose joy Thou 
Thyself art. And this is the happy life, to rejoice to Thee, 
of Thee, for Thee ; this is it, and there is no other. For they 
who think there is another, pursue some other and not the 
true joy. Yet is not their will turned away from some sem- 
blance of joy. 

It is not certain then that all wish to be happy, inasmuch 
as they who wish not to joy in Thee, which is the only happy 
life, do not truly desire the happy life. Or do all men 
desire this, but because the iiesh lusteth against the Spirit, 
and the Spirit against the flesh, that they cannot do what 
they would^^ they fall upon that which they can, and are 
content therewith; because, what they are not able to do, 
they do not will so strongly as would suffice to make them 
able? For I ask any one, had he rather joy in truth, or in 
falsehood ? They will as little hesitate to say " in the truth," 
as to say " that they desire to be happy," for a happy life 
is joy in the truth: for this is a joying in Thee, Who art 
the Truth,"' O God my light, health of my countenance, my 
God.^ This is the happy life which all desire; this life 
which alone is happy, all desire; to joy in the truth all 
desire. I have met with many that would deceive; who 
would be deceived, no one. Where then did they know 
this happy life, save where they knew the truth also? For 
they love it also, since they would not be deceived. And 
when they love a happy life, which is no other than joying 
in the truth, then also do they love the truth ; which yet they 
would not love, were there not some notice of it in their 
memory. Why then joy they not in it? why are they not 
happy? because they are more strongly taken up with other 
things which have more power to make them miserable, 
than that which they so faintly remember to make them happy. 
For there is yet a little light in men; let them walk, let 
them walk, that the darkness overtake them not.** 

But why doth "truth generate hatred," and the man of 
thine,** preaching the truth, become an enemy to them? 
whereas a happy life is loved, which is nothing else but 

*I8. xlviii. 22. * Gal. v. 17. "John xiv. 6. " Ps. xxvii, i; xlii. 11. 
•*John xii. 35. •'John viii. 40. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 187 

joying in the truth; unless that truth is in that kind loved, 
that they who love any thing else would gladly have that 
which they love to be the truth: and because they would 
not be deceived, would not be convinced that they are so? 
Therefore do they hate the truth for that thing's sake which 
they love instead of the truth. They love truth when she 
enlightens, they hate her when she reproves. For since they 
would not be deceived, and would deceive, they love her 
,when she discovers herself unto them, and hate her when 
she discovers them. Whence she shall so repay them, that 
they who would not be made manifest by her, she both 
against their will makes manifest, and herself becometh not 
manifest unto them. Thus, thus, yea thus doth the mind 
of man, thus blind and sick, foul and ill-favoured, wish 
to be hidden, but that aught should be hidden from it, it 
wills not. But the contrary is requited it, that itself should 
not be hidden from the Truth; but the Truth is hid from 
it. Yet even thus miserable, it had rather joy in truths 
than in falsehoods. Happy then will it be, when, no dis- 
traction interposing, it shall joy in that only Truth, by 
Whom all things are true. 

See what a space I have gone over in my memory seeking 
Thee, O Lord; and I have not found Thee, without it. Nor 
have I found any thing concerning Thee, but what I have 
kept in memory, ever since I learnt Thee. For since I 
learnt Thee, I have not forgotten Thee. For where I found 
Truth, there found I my God, the Truth Itself; which 
since I learnt, I have not forgotten. Since then I learnt 
Thee, Thou residest in my memory; and there do I find 
Thee, when I call Thee to remembrance, and delight in 
Thee. These be my holy delights, which Thou hast given 
me in Thy mercy, having regard to my poverty. 

But where in my memory residest Thou, O Lord, where 
residest Thou there? what manner of lodging hast Thou 
framed for Thee? what manner of sanctuary hast Thou 
builded for Thee? Thou hast given this honour to my 
memory, to reside in it; but in what quarter of it Thou 
residest, that am I considering. For in thinking on Thee, I 
passed beyond such parts of it as the beasts also have, for 
I found Thee not there among the images of corporeal 



188 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

things: and I came to those parts to which I committed the 
affections of my mind, nor found Thee there. And I en- 
tered into the very seat of my mind (which it hath in my 
memory, inasmuch as the mind remembers itself also), 
neither wert Thou there: for as Thou art not a corporeal 
image, nor the affection of a living being (as when we 
rejoice, condole, desire, fear, remember, forget, or the like) ; 
so neither art Thou the mind itself; because Thou art the 
Lord God of the mind; and all these are changed, but Thou 
remainest unchangeable over all, and yet hast vouchsafed 
to dwell in my memory, since I learnt Thee. And why 
seek I now in what place thereof Thou dwellest, as if there 
.were places therein? Sure I am, that in it Thou dwellest, 
since I have remembered Thee ever since I learnt Thee, 
and there I find Thee, when I call Thee to remembrance. 

Where then did I find Thee, that I might learn Thee? 
For in my memory Thou wert not, before I learned Thee. 
Where then did I find Thee, that I might learn Thee, but 
in Thee above me? Place there is none; we go backward 
and forivard^ and there is no place. Every where, O 
Truth, dost Thou give audience to all who ask counsel of 
Thee, and at once answerest all, though on manifold 
matters they ask Thy counsel. Clearly dost Thou answer, 
though all do not clearly hear. All consult Thee on what 
they will, though they hear not always what they will. 
He is Thy best servant who looks not so much to hear 
that from Thee which himself willeth, as rather to will that 
which from Thee he heareth. 

Too late loved I Thee, O Thou Beauty of ancient days, 
yet ever new ! too late I loved Thee ! And behold. Thou 
wert within, and I abroad, and there I searched for Thee; 
deformed I, plunging amid those fair forms which Thou 
hadst made. Thou wert with me, but I was not with Thee. 
Things held me far from Thee, which, unless they were 
in Thee, were not at all. Thou calledst and shoutedst, and 
burstest my deafness. Thou flashedst, shonest, and scat- 
teredst my blindness. Thou breathedst odours, and / drew 
in breath and pant for Thee. I tasted, and hunger and 
thirst. Thou touchedst me, and I burned for Thy peace. 
"Job xxiiL 8, 9. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 189 

When I shall with my whole self cleave to Thee, I shall 
no where have sorrow or labour; and my life shall wholly 
live, as wholly full of Thee. But now since whom Thou 
fillest. Thou liftest up, because I am not full of Thee I am 
a burden to myself. Lamentable joys strive with joyous 
sorrows: and on which side is the victory, I know not. 
Woe is me! Lord, have pity on me. My evil sorrows strive 
with my good joys ; and on which side is the victory, I know 
not. Woe is me ! Lord, have pity on me. Woe is me ! lo ! 
I hide not my wounds; Thou art the Physician, I the sick; 
Thou merciful, I miserable. Is not the life of man upon 
earth all trial f^ Who wishes for troubles and difficulties? 
Thou commandest them to be endured, not to be loved. No 
man loves what he endures, though he love to endure. For 
though he rejoices that he endures, he had rather there were 
nothing for him to endure. In adversity I long for pros- 
perity, in prosperity I fear adversity. What middle place 
is there betwixt these two, where the life of man is not all 
trial f Woe to the prosperities of the world, once and again, 
through fear of adversity, and corruption of joy! Woe to 
the adversities of the world, once and again, and the third 
time, from the longing for prosperity, and because adversity 
itself is a hard thing, and lest it shatter endurance. Is not 
the life of man upon earth all trial: without any interval? 

And all my hope is no where but in Thy exceeding great 
mercy. Give what Thou enjoinest, and enjoin what Thou 
wilt. Thou enjoinest us continency; and when I knew, saith 
one, that no man can be continent, unless God give it, this 
also was a part of wisdom to know whose gift she is.*^ By 
continency verily are we bound up and brought back into 
One, whence we were dissipated into many. For too little 
doth he love Thee, who loves any thing with Thee, which 
he loveth not for Thee. O love, who ever burnest and never 
consumest ! O charity, my God ! kindle me. Thou enjoinest 
continency: give me what Thou enjoinest, and enjoin what 
Thou wilt. 

Verily Thou enjoinest me continency from the lust of 
the iiesh, the lust of the eyes, and the ambition of the world." 
Thou enjoinest continency from concubinage; and for wed- 

•^Job. vii. I. — Old Vulg. **Wisd. viii. 21. *» i John ii. 16. 



190 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

lock itself. Thou hast counselled something better than what 
Thou hast permitted. And since Thou gavest it, it was done, 
even before I became a dispenser of Thy Sacrament. But 
there yet live in my memory (whereof I have much spoken) 
the images of such things as my ill custom there fixed, 
which haunt me, strengthless when I am awake : but in sleep, 
not only so as to give pleasure, but even to obtain assent, 
and what is very like reality. Yea, so far prevails the 
illusion of the image, in my soul and in my flesh, that, when 
asleep, false visions persuade to that which when waking, 
the true cannot. Am I not then myself, O Lord my God? 
And yet there is so much difference betwixt myself and 
myself, within that moment wherein I pass from waking 
to sleeping, or return from sleeping to waking! Where is 
reason then, which, awake, resisteth such suggestions ? And 
should the things themselves be urged on it, it remaineth 
unshaken. Is it clasped up with the eyes? is it lulled asleep 
with the senses of the body? And whence is it that often 
even in sleep we resist, and mindful of our purpose, and 
abiding most chastely in it, yield no assent to such entice- 
ments? And yet so much difference there is, that when 
it happeneth otherwise, upon waking we return to peace 
of conscience; and by this very difference discover that we 
did not, what yet we be sorry that in some way it was done 
in us. 

Art Thou not mighty, God Almighty, so as to heal all the 
diseases of my soul,*° and by Thy more abundant grace to 
quench even the impure motions of my sleep! Thou wilt 
increase. Lord, Thy gifts more and more in me, that my 
soul may follow me to Thee, disentangled from the bird- 
lime of concupiscence; that it rebel not against itself, and 
even in dreams not only not, through images of sense, com- 
mit those debasing corruptions, even to pollution of the flesh, 
but not even to consent unto them. For that nothing of this 
sort should have, over the pure affections even of a sleeper, 
the very least influence, not even such as a thought would 
restrain — to work this, not only during life, but even at my 
present age is not hard for the Almighty, Who art able to do 
above all that we ask or think.*^ But w4iat I yet am in this 

*• Ps. cuL 3. *^ Eph. iii. 20. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE ' 191 

kind of my evil, have I confessed unto my good Lord; re- 
joicing with trembling,*^ in that which Thou hast given me, 
and bemoaning that wherein I am still imperfect; hoping 
that Thou wilt perfect Thy mercies in me, even to perfect 
peace, which my outward and inward man shall have with 
Thee, when death shall be swallowed up in victory.^ 

There is another evil of the day,** which I would were 
sufficient for it. For by eating and drinking we repair the 
daily decays of our body, until Thou destroy both belly and , 
meat*^ when Thou shalt slay my emptiness with a wonder- 
ful fulness, and clothe this corruptible with an eternal 
incorruption.^ But now the necessity is sweet unto me, 
against which sweetness I fight, that I be not taken captive; 
and carry on a daily war by fastings ; often bringing my body 
into subjection*'' and my pains are removed by pleasure. 
For hunger and thirst are in a manner pains ; they burn and 
kill like a fever, unless the medicine of nourishments come 
to our aid. Which since it is at hand through the con- 
solations of Thy gifts, with which land, and water, and air 
serve our weakness, our calamity is termed gratification. 

This hast Thou taught me, that I should set myself to take 
food as physic. But while I am passing from the discomfort 
of emptiness to the content of replenishing, in the very pas- 
sage the snare of concupiscence besets me. For that passing, 
is pleasure, nor is there any other way to pass thither, 
whither we needs must pass. And health being the cause of 
eating and drinking, there joineth itself as an attendant a 
dangerous pleasure, which mostly endeavours to go before 
it, so that I may for her sake do what I say I do, or wish to 
do, for health's sake. Nor have each the same measure ; for 
Avhat is enough for health, is too little for pleasure. And 
oft it is uncertain whether it be the necessary care of the body 
which is yet asking for sustenance, or whether a voluptuous 
deceivableness of greediness is proffering its services. In 
this uncertainty the unhappy soul rejoiceth, and therein 
prepares an excuse to shield itself, glad that it appeareth not 
what sufficeth for the moderation of health, that under the 
cloak of health, it may disguise the matter of gratification. 

"Ps. ii. II. ** I Cor. XV. 54. ** Matt. vi. 34. *^ i Cor. vi. 13. 
*' I Cor. XV. 54. *■'' Ibid. ix. 27. 



192 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

These temptations I daily endeavour to resist, and I call 
on Thy right hand, and to Thee do I refer my perplexities ; 
because I have as yet no settled counsel herein. 

fl hear the voice of my God commanding, Let not your 
hearts be overcharged zvith surfeiting and drunk enness.*tj 
Drunkenness is far from me; Thou wilt have mercy, that it 
come not near me. But full feeding sometimes creepeth 
upon Thy servant; Thou wilt have mercy, that it may be 
far from me. For no one can be continent unless Than give 
it.** Many things Thou givest us, praying for them; and 
what good soever we have received before we prayed, from 
Thee we received it; yea to the end we might afterwards 
know this, did we before receive it. Drunkard was I never, 
but drunkards have I known made sober by Thee. From 
Thee then it was, that they who never were such, should 
not so be, as from Thee it was, that they who have been, 
should not ever so be ; and from Thee it was, that both might 
know from Whom it was. I hear another voice of Thine. 
Go not after thy lusts, and from thy pleasure turn aivay^ 
Yea by Thy favour have I heard that which I have much 
loved; neither if we eat, shall ufe abound; neither if we eat 
not, shall we lack ;^\-wh\ch. is to say, neither shall the one 
make me plenteous nor the other miserable. I heard also 
another, for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, there- 
with to be content; I know how to abound, and how to suffer 
need. I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneih 
me.^' Behold a soldier of the heavenly camp, not the dust 
which we are. But remember," Lord, that we are dust, and 
that of dust Thou hast made man;^ and he was lost and is 
found.^ Nor could he of himself do this, because he whom 
I so loved, saying this through the in-breathing of Thy in- 
spiration, was of the same dust. / can do all things (saith 
he) through Him that strengtheneth me. Strengthen me, that 
/ can. Give what Thou enjoinest, and enjoin what Thou 
wilt. He confesses to have received, and when he glorieth, 
in the Lord he glorieth.^ Another have I heard begging that 
he might receive. Take from me (saith he) the desires of the 
belly;" whence it appeareth, O my holy God, that Thou 

**Luke xxi. 34. *• Wisd. viii. 21. "" Ecclus. xviii. 30. " i Cor. viii. 8. 
*" Phil. iv. 11-13. "^ Ps. ciii. 14. "Gen. iii. 19. "Luke xv. 32. 
" I Cor. i. 30, 31. '" Ecclus. xxiii. 6. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 193 

givest, when that is done which Thou commandest to be done. 
Thou hast taught me, good Father, that to the pure, all 
things are pure; but that it is evil unto the man that eateth 
with offence;^ and, that every creature of Thine is good, and 
nothing to be refused, zvhich is received with thanks giving f^ 
and that meat commendeth us not to God;'" and, that no man 
should judge us in meat or drink ;^ and, that he which eateth, 
let him not despise him that eateth not; and let him not that 
eateth not, judge him that eateth.^ These things have I 
learned, thanks be to Thee, praise to Thee, my God, my 
Master, knocking at my ears, enUghtening my heart; deliver 
me out of all temptation. I fear not uncleanness of meat, 
but the uncleanness of lusting. I know that Noah was per- 
mitted to eat all kind of flesh that was good for food;^ that 
EHjah was fed with flesh;** that John, endued with an admi- 
rable abstinence, was not polluted by feeding on living 
creatures, locusts. I know also that Esau was deceived by 
lusting for lentiles;*" and that David blamed himself for 
desiring a draught of water ;** and that our King was tempted, 
not concerning flesh, but bread." And therefore the people 
in the wilderness also deserved to be reproved, not for de- 
siring flesh, but because, in the desire of iood, they murmured 
against the Lord.** 

Placed then amid these temptations, I strive daily against 
concupiscence in eating and drinking. For it is not of such 
nature that I can settle on cutting it off once for all, and 
never touching it afterward, as I could of concubinage. The 
bridle of the throat then is to be held attempered between 
slackness and stiffness. And who is he, O Lord, who is not 
some whit transported beyond the limits of necessity? who- 
ever he is, he is a great one ; let him make Thy Name great. 
But I am not such, for / am a sinful man.*" Yet do I too 
magnify Thy name ; and He maketh intercession to Thee''° for 
my sins who hath overcome the world;^ numbering me 
among the weak members of His body;''' because Thine eyes 
have seen that of Him which is imperfect, and in Thy book 
shall all be written^* 

■^Rom. xiv. 20. w I Tim. iv. 4. <» i Cor. viii. 8. «i Col. ii. 16. 
•" Rom. xiv. 3. •* Gen. ix. 3. " i Kings xvii. 6. «= Gen. xxv. 34. 
"•2 Sam. xxiii. 15-17. "Matt. iv. 3. «» Numb. xi. "» Luke v. 8. 
WRom. viii. 34. "^John xvi. 33. "i Cor. xii. 22. " Ps. cxxxix. 16. 

7— HCVU 



194 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

f 

With the allurements of smells, I am not much concerned. 
When absent, I do not miss them; when present, I do not 
refuse them ; yet ever ready to be without them. So I seem 
to myself; perchance I am deceived. For that also is a 
mournful darkness whereby my abilities within are hidden 
from me; so that my mind making enquiry into herself 
of her own powers, ventures not readily to believe herself; 
because even what is in it is mostly hidden unless experience 
reveal it. And no one ought to be secure in that life, the 
whole whereof is called a trial,^* that he who hath been 
capable of worse to be made better, may not likewise of 
better be made worse. Our only hope, only confidence, only 
assured promise is Thy mercy. 

VThe delights of the ear had more firmly entangled and 
subdued me ; but Thou didst loosen and free mel\ Now, in 
those melodies which Thy words breathe soul into, when 
sung with a sweet and attuned voice, I do little repose; yet 
not so to be held thereby, but that I can disengage myself 
when I will. But with the words which are their life and 
whereby they find admission into me, themselves seek in my 
affections a place of some estimation, and I can scarcely as- 
sign them one suitable. For at one time I seem to myself 
to give them more honour than is seemly, feeling our minds 
to be more holily and fervently raised unto a flame of devo- 
tion, by the holy words themselves when thus sung, than when 
not ; and that the several affections of our spirit, by a sweet 
variety, have their own proper measures in the voice and 
singing, by some hidden correspondence wherewith they are 
stirred up. But this contentment of the flesh, to which the 
soul must not be given over to be enervated doth oft beguile 
me, the sense not so waiting upon reason as patiently to fol- 
low her; but having been admitted merely for her sake, it 
strives even to run before her, and lead her. Thus in these 
things I unawares sin, but afterwards am aware of it. 

At other times, shunning over-anxiously this very decep- 
tion, I err in too great strictness; and sometimes to that 
degree, as to wish the whole melody of sweet music which 
is used to David's Psalter, banished from my ears, and the 
Church's too; and that mode seems to me safer, which I 

''♦Job viL I.— Vulg. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 195 

remember to have been often told me of Athanasius. Bishop 
of Alexandria, who made the reader of the psalm utter it 
with so slight inflection of voice, that it was nearer speaking 
than singing. Yet again, when I remember the tears I shed 
at the Psalmody of Thy Church, in the beginning of my 
recovered faith; and how at this time I am moved not with 
the singing, but with the things sung, when they are sung 
with a clear voice and modulation most suitable, I acknowl- 
edge the great use of this institution. Thus I fluctuate 
between peril of pleasure and approved wholesomeness ; in- 
clined the rather (though not as pronouncing an irrevocable 
opinion) to approve of the usage of singing in the church; 
that so by the delight of the ears the weaker minds may 
rise to the feeding of devotion. Yet when it befalls me to 
be more moved with the voice than the words sung, I confess 
to have sinned penally, and then had rather not hear music. 
See now my state : weep with me, and weep for me, ye, whoso 
regulate your feelings within, as that good action ensues. 
For you who do not act, these things touch not you. But 
Thou, O Lord my God, hearken ; behold, and see, and have 
mercy and heal me^^ Thou, in whose presence I have become 
a problem to myself; and that is my infirmity.''^ 

There remains the pleasure of these eyes of my flesh, on 
which to make my confessions in the hearing of the ears 
of Thy temple, these brotherly and devout ears : and so to con- 
clude the temptations of the lust of the flesh, which yet assail 
me, groaning earnestly, and desiring to be clothed upon with 
my house from heaven!" [The eyes love fair and varied 
forms, and bright and soft colours. Let not these occupy my 
soul; let God rather occupy it, who made these things, very 
good'^ indeed, yet is He my good, not they?^ And these 
affect me, waking, the whole day, nor is any rest given me 
from them, as there is from musical, sometimes in silence, 
from all voices. For this queen of colours, the light, bath- 
ing all which we behold, wherever I am through the day, 
gliding by me in varied forms, soothes me when engaged on 
other things, and not observing it. And so strongly doth it 
entwine itself, that if it be suddenly withdrawn, it is with 
longing sought for, and if absent long, saddeneth the mind. 

"Ps. vi. 3. T«ps ixxvii. 10. "2 Cor. v. 2. ™ Gen. i. 31. 



196 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

O Thou Light, which Tobias saw, when these eyes closed 
he taught his son the way of life ;" and himself went before 
with the feet of charity, never swerving. Or which Isaac 
saw, when his fleshly eyes being heavy^ and closed by old 
age, it was vouchsafed him, not knowingly, to bless his sons, 
but by blessing to know them. Or which Jacob saw, when 
he also, blind through great age, with illumined heart, in 
the persons of his sons shed light on the different races of 
the future people, in them foresignified ; and laid his hands, 
mystically crossed upon his grandchildren by Joseph, not 
as their father by his outward eye corrected them, but as 
himself inwardly discerned." This is the light, it is one, 
and all are one, who see and love it. But that corporeal 
light whereof I spake, it seasoneth the life of this world 
for her blind lovers with an enticing and dangerous sweet- 
ness. But they who know how to praise Thee for it, " O 
All-creating Lord," take it up in Thy hymns, and are not 
taken up with it in their sleep. Such would I be. These 
seductions of the eyes I resist, lest my feet wherewith I walk 
upon Thy way be ensnared ; and I lift up mine invisible eyes 
to Thee that Thou wouldest pluck my feet out of the snare." 
Thou dost ever and anon pluck them out, for they are en- 
snared. Thou ceasest not to pluck them out, while I often 
entangle myself in the snares on all sides aid : because Thou 
that keepest Israel neither slumber nor sleep.^ 

What innumerable toys, made by divers arts and manu- 
factures in our apparel, shoes, utensils and all sort of works, 
in pictures also in divers images, and these far exceeding 
all necessary and moderate use and all pious meaning, have 
men added to tempt their own eyes withal; outwardly fol- 
lowing what themselves make, inwardly forsaking Him by 
whom themselves were made, and destroying that which 
themselves have been made ! But I, my God and my Glory, 
do hence also sing a hymn to Thee, and do consecrate praise 
to Him who consecrateth me, because beautiful pat- 
terns which through men's souls are conveyed into their 
cunning hands, come from that Beauty, which is above our 
souls, which my soul day and night sigheth after. But the 
framers and followers of the outward beauties derive thence 

''•Tob. iv. •'Gen. xxvii. « Gen. xlviii. *«Ps. xxv. is *»Ps. cxxi. 4. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 197 

the rule of judging of them, but not of using them. And 
He is there, though they perceive Him not, that so they 
might not wander, but keep their strength for Thee^ and 
not scatter it abroad upon pleasurable wearinesses. And I, 
though I speak and see this, entangle my steps with these 
outward beauties; but Thou pluckest me out, O Lord, Thou 
pluckest me out; because Thy loving-kindness is before my 
eyes.^ For I am taken miserably, and Thou pluckest me 
out mercifully ; sometimes not perceiving it, when I had but 
lightly lighted upon them; otherwhiles with pain, because 
I had stuck fast in them. 

To this is added another form of temptation more mani- 
foldly dangerous. For besides that concupiscence of the 
flesh which consisteth in the delight of all senses and pleas- 
ures, wherein it slaves, who go far from Thee^ waste and 
perish, fthe soul hath, through the same senses of the body, 
a certam vain and curious desire, veiled under the title of 
knowledge and learning, not of delighting in the flesh, but 
of making experiments through the fleshj The seat whereof 
being in the appetite of knowledge, and sight being the sense 
chiefly used for attaining knowledge, it is in Divine lan- 
guage called The lust of the eyes^'' For to see, belongeth 
properly to the eyes; yet we use this word of the other 
senses also, when we employ them in seeking knowledge. 
For we do not say, hark how it flashes, or smell how it 
glows, or taste how it shines, or feel how it gleams ; for 
all these are said to be seen. And yet we say not only, 
see how it shineth, which the eyes alone can perceive ; but 
also, see how it soundeth, see how it smelleth, see how 
it tasteth, see how hard it is. And so the general experience 
of the senses, as was said, is called The lust of the eyes, 
because the office of seeing, wherein the eyes hold the pre- 
rogative, the other senses by the ^yay of similitude take to 
themselves when they make search after any knowledge. 

But by this may more evidently be discerned, wherein 
pleasure and wherein curiosity is the object of the senses; 
for pleasure seeketh objects beautiful, melodious, fragrant, 
savoury, soft ; but curiosity, for trial's sake, the contrary 
as well, not for the sake of sufliering annoyance, but out of 

** Ps. Iviii. — Vulg. ^ Ps. XXV. 3. *" Ps. Ixxiii. 27. ^ 1 John ii. 16. 



198 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

the lust of making trial and knowing them. For what 
pleasure hath it, to see in a mangled carcase what will 
make you shudder? and yet if it be lying near, they flock 
thither, to be made sad, and to turn pale. Even in sleep 
they are afraid to see it. As if when awake, any one forced 
them to see it, or any report of its beauty drew them thither ! 
Thus also in the other senses, which it were long to go 
through. From this disease of curiosity are all those strange 
sights exhibited in the theatre. Hence men go on to search 
out the hidden powers of nature (which is besides our 
end), which to know profits not, and wherein men desire 
nothing but to know. Hence also, if with that same end 
of perverted knowledge magical arts be enquired by. Hence 
also in religion itself, is God tempted, when signs and 
wonders are demanded of Him, not desired for any good 
end, but merely to make trial of. 

Pin this so vast wilderness, full of snares and dangers, be- 
hold many of them, I have cut off, and thrust out of my 
heart, as Thou hast given me, O God of my salvatioflTt And 
yet when dare I say, since so many things of thts kind 
buzz on all sides about our daily life — when dare I say that 
nothing of this sort engages my attention or causes in me an 
idle interest? True, the theatres do not now carry me 
away, nor care I to know the courses of the stars, nor 
did my soul ever consult ghosts departed; all sacrilegious 
mysteries I detest. From Thee, O Lord my God, to whom 
I owe humble and single-hearted service, by what artifices 
and suggestions doth the enemy deal with me to desire 
some sign! But I beseech Thee by our King, and by our 
pure and holy country, Jerusalem, that as any consenting 
thereto is far from me, so may it ever be further and fur- 
ther. But when I pray Thee for the salvation of any, my 
end and intention is far different. Thou givest and wilt 
give me to follow Thee willingly, doing what Thou wilt.^ 

Notwithstanding, in how many most petty and contemp- 
tible things is our curiosity daily tempted, and how often 
we give way, who can recount? How often do we begin 
as it were tolerating people telling vain stories, lest we 
offend the weak ; then by degrees we take interest therein ! 

•* John xxi. 22. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 199 

I go not now to the circus to see a dog coursing a hare ; but 
in the field, if passing, that coursing peradventure will dis- 
tract me even from some weighty thought, and draw me 
after it : not that I turn aside the body of my beast, yet still 
incline ray mind thither. And unless Thou, having made me 
see my infirmity, didst speedily admonish me either through 
the sight itself, by some contemplation to rise towards Thee, 
or altogether to despise and pass it by, I dully stand fixed 
therein. What, when sitting at home, a lizard catching 
flies, or a spider entangling them rushing into her nets, 
ofttimes takes my attention? Is the thing different, because 
they are but small creatures? I go on from them to praise 
Thee the wonderful Creator and Orderer of all, but this 
does not first draw my attention. It is one thing to rise 
quickly, another not to fall. And of such things is my 
life full ; and my one hope is Thy wonderful great mercy. For 
when our heart becomes the receptacle of such things and 
is overcharged with throngs of this abundant vanity, then 
are our prayers also thereby often interrupted and dis- 
tracted, and whilst in Thy presence we direct the voice of 
our heart to Thine ears, this so great concern is broken 
off, by the rushing in of I know not what idle thoughts. 
Shall we then account this also among things of slight con- 
cernment, or shall aught bring us back to hope, save Thy 
complete mercy, since Thou hast begun to change us ? 

And Thou knowest how far Thou hast already changed 
me, who first healedst me of the lust of vindicating myself, 
that so Thou mightest forgive all the rest of my iniquities, 
and heal all my infirmities, and redeem my life from cor- 
ruption, and crozvn me with mercy and pity, and satisfy my 
desire with good things;^ who didst curb my pride with 
Thy fear, and tame my neck to Thy yoke. And now I bear 
it and it is light^ unto me, because so hast Thou promised, 
and hast made it; and verily so it was, and I knew it not, 
when I feared to take it. 

But, O Lord, Thou alone Lord without pride, because 
Thou art the only true Lord, who hast no Lord; hath this 
third kind of temptation also ceased from me, or can it 
cease through this whole life? To wish, namely, to be 

* Ps. ciii. 3-s. *" Matt. xi. 30. 



200 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

feared and loved of men, for no other end, but that we 
may have a joy therein which is no joy? A miserable life 
this and a foul boastfulness ? Hence especially it comes 
that men do neither purely love nor fear Thee. And there- 
fore dost Thou resist the proud, and givest grace to the 
humble:^ yea, Thou thunderest down upon the ambitions 
of the world, and the foundations of the mountains tremble." 
Because now certain offices of human society make it neces- 
sary to be loved and feared of men, the adversary of our 
true blessedness layeth hard at us, every where spreading 
his snares of " well-done, well-done ;" that greedily catching 
at them, we may be taken unawares, and sever our joy 
from Thy truth, and set it in the deceivingness of men ; 
and be pleased at being loved and feared, not for Thy sake, 
but in Thy stead: and thus having been made like him, he 
may have them for his own, not in the bands of charity, 
but in the bonds of punishment: who purposed to set his 
throne in the north^ that dark and chilled they might serve 
him pervertedly and crookedly imitating Thee. But we, O 
Lord, behold we are Thy little Hock;** possess us as Thine, 
stretch Thy wings over us, and let us fly under them. Be 
Thou our glory; let us be loved for Thee, and Thy word 
feared in us. Who would be praised of men w'hen Thou 
blamest, will not be defended of men when Thou judgest; 
nor delivered when Thou condemnest. But when — not the 
sinner is praised in the desires of his soul^ nor he blessed 
zvho doth ungodlily^ but — a man is praised for some gift 
which Thou hast given him, and he rejoices more at the 
> praise for himself than that he hath the gift for wihich he 
lis praised, he also is praised, while Thou dispraisest; and 
I better is he who praised than he who is praised. For the 
one took pleasure in the gift of God in man; the other was 
better pleased with the gift of man, than of God. 
PBy these temptations we are assailed daily, O Lord: with- 
out ceasing are we assailed?^ Our daily furnace'" is the 
tongue of men. And in this way also Thou commandest 
us continence. Give what Thou enjoinest, and enjoin what 
Thou wilt. Thou knowest on this matter the groans of 

•* Jam. Iv. 6. •* Ps. xviii. 7. •• Is. xjv. 13, J4. •* Luke xii. 32. 
•• Ps. ix. 39. — 'Vulg. *• Ps. X. 3. "Prov. xxvii. n. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 201 

my heart, and the floods of mine eyes. For I cannot learn 
how far I am more cleansed from this plague, and I much 
fear my secret sins^ which Thine eyes know, mine do not. 
For in other kinds of temptations I have some sort of 
means of examining myself; in this, scarce any. For, in 
refraining my mind from the pleasures of the flesh and idle 
curiosity, I see how much I have attained to, when I do 
without them; foregoing, or not having them. For then I 
ask myself how much more or less troublesome it is to me 
not to have them? Then, riches, which are desired, that 
they may serve to some one or two or all of the three con- 
cupiscences,* if the soul cannot discern whether, when it 
hath them, it despiseth them, they may be cast aside, that 
so it may prove itself. But to be without praise, and therein 
essay our powers, must we live ill, yea so abandonedly and 
atrociously, that no one should know without detesting us? 
What greater madness can be said or thought of? But if 
praise useth and ought to accompany a good life and good 
works, we ought as little to forego its company, as good 
life itself. Yet I know not whether I can well or ill be 
without any thing, unless it be absent. 

What then do I confess unto Thee in this kind of tempta- 
tion, O Lord? What, but that I am delighted with praise, 
but with truth itself, more than with praise? For were it 
proposed to me, whether I would, being frenzied in error 
on all things, be praised by all men, or being consistent 
and most settled in the truth be blamed by all, I see which 
I should choose. Yet fain would I that the approbation of 
another should not even increase my joy for any good in 
me. Yet I own, it doth increase it, and not so only, but 
dispraise doth diminish it. And when I am troubled at this 
my misery, an excuse occurs to me, which of what value 
it is. Thou God knowest, for it leaves me uncertain. For 
since Thou has commanded us not continency alone, that 
is, from what things to refrain our love, but righteousness 
also, that is, whereon to bestow it, and hast willed us to 
love not Thee only, but our neighbour also; often, when 
pleased with intelligent praise, I seem to myself to be 
pleased with the proficiency or towardliness of my neigh- 

'^Ps. xix. 12. »* I John ii. i6. 



202 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

hour, or to be grieved for evil in him, when I hear him 
dispraise either what he understands not, or is good. For 
sometimes I am grieved at my own praise, either when those 
things be praised in me, in which I mislike myself, or even 
lesser and slight goods are more esteemed than they ought. 
But again how know I whether I am therefore thus affected, 
because I would not have him who praiseth me differ from 
me about myself; not as being influenced by concern for 
him, but because those same good things which please me 
in myself, please me more when they please another also? 
For some how I am not praised when my judgment of 
myself is not praised; forasmuch as either those things are 
praised, which displease me; or those more, which please 
me less. Am I then doubtful of myself in this matter ? 

Behold, in Thee, O Truth, I see that I ought not to be 
moved at my own praises, for my own sake, but for the 
good of my neighbour. And whether it be so with me, I 
know not. For herein I know less of myself than of Thee, 
I beseech now, O my God, discover to me myself also, that 
I may confess imto my brethren, who are to pray for me, 
wherein I find myself maimed. Let me examine myself again 
more diligently. If in my praise I am moved with the good 
of my neighbour, why am I less moved if another be un-. 
justly dispraised than if it be myself? Why am I more 
stung by reproach cast upon myself, than at that cast upon 
another, with the same injustice, before me? Know I not 
this also? or is it at last that I deceive myself, ^'^ and do not 
the truth before Thee in my heart and tongue? This mad- 
ness put far from me, O Lord, lest mine own mouth be to 
me the sinner's oil to make fat my head}'^ I am poor and 
needy f^ yet best, while in hidden groanings I displease my- 
self, and seek Thy mercy, until what is lacking in my defect- 
ive state be renewed and perfected, on to that peace which the 
eye of the proud knoweth not. 

Yet the word which cometh out of the mouth, and deeds 
known to men, bring with them a most dangerous temptation 
through the love of praise : which to establish a certain ex- 
cellency of our own, solicits and collects men's suffrages. 
It tempts, even when it is reproved by myself in myself, on the 

iooGal. vi. 3; I John i. 8. "* Ps. cxli. 5. »<» Ps. cix. 22. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 203 

very ground that it is reproved; and often glories more vainly 
of the very contempt of vainglory ; and so it is no longer con- 
tempt of vainglory, whereof it glories; for it doth not 
contemn when it glorieth. 

Within also, within is another evil, arising out of a like 
temptation; whereby men become vain, pleasing themselves 
in themselves, though they please not, or displease or care 
not to please others. But pleasing themselves, they much 
displease Thee, not only taking pleasure in things not good, 
as if good, but in Thy good things, as though their own; or 
even if as Thine, yet as though for their own merits ; or even 
if as though from Thy grace, yet not with brotherly rejoic- 
ing, but envying that grace to others. In all these and the 
like perils and travails. Thou seest the trembling of my heart ; 
and I rather feel my wounds to be cured by Thee, than not 
inflicted by me. 

Where hast Thou not walked with me, O Truth, teaching 
me what to beware, and what to desire; when I referred to 
Thee what I could discover here below, and consulted Thee ? 
With my outward senses, as I might, I surveyed the world 
and observed the life, which my body hath from me, and 
these my senses. Thence entered I the recesses of my mem- 
ory, those manifold and spacious chambers, wonderfully fur- 
nished with innumerable stores; and I considered, and stood 
aghast ; being able to discern nothing of these things without 
Thee, and finding none of them to be Thee. Nor was I my- 
self, who found out these things, who went over them all, 
and laboured to distinguish and to value every thing accord- 
ing to its dignity, taking some things upon the report of my 
senses, questioning about others which I felt to be mingled 
with myself, numbering and distinguishing the reporters 
themselves, and in the large treasure-house of my memory 
revolving some things, storing up others, drawing out others. 
Nor yet was I myself when I did this, i. e., that ray power 
whereby I did it, neither was it Thou, for Thou art the abid- 
ing light, which I consulted concerning all these, whether 
they were, what they were, and how to be valued; and I 
heard Thee directing and commanding me ; and this I often 
do, this delights me ; and as far as I may be freed from neces- 
sary duties, unto this pleasure have I recourse. Nor in all 



204 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

these which I run over consulting Thee can I find any safe 
place for my soul, but in Thee ;' whither my scattered mem- 
bers may be gathered, and nothing of me depart from Thee. 
And sometimes Thou admittest me to an affection, very un- 
usual, in my inmost soul ; rising to a strange sweetness, which 
if it vi^re perfected in me, I know not what in it would not 
belong to the life to come. But through my miserable en- 
cumbrances I sink down again into these lower things, and 
am swept back by former custom, and am held, and greatly 
weep, but am greatly held. So much doth the burden of a 
bad custom weigh us down. Here I can stay, but would 
not ; there I would, but cannot ; both ways, miserable. 

Thus then have I considered the sicknesses of my sins in 
that threefold concupiscence, and have called Thy right hand 
to my help. For with a wounded heart have I beheld Thy 
brightness, and stricken back I said, "Who can attain thither ? 
/ am cast away from the sight of Thine eyes."^°^ Thou art 
the Truth who presidest over all, but I through my covet- 
ousness would not indeed forego Thee, but would with Thee 
possess a lie ; as no man would in such wise speak falsely, as 
himself to be ignorant of the truth. So then I lost Thee, 
because Thou vouchsafest not to be possessed with a lie. 

[whom could I find to reconcile me to Thee? was I to have 
roiourse to Angels? by what prayers, by what sacraments? 
Many endeavouring to return unto Thee, and of themselves 
unable, have, as I hear, tried this, and fallen into the desire 
of curious visions, and been accounted worthy to be deluded. 
For they, being high minded, sought Thee by the pride of 
learning, swelling out rather than smiting upon their breasts, 
and so by the agreement of their heart, drew unto them- 
selves the princes of the air,^*^ the fellow-conspirators of their 
pride, by whom, through magical influences, they were de- 
ceived, seeking a mediator, by whom they might be purged, 
and there was none. For the devil it was, transforming 
himself into an Angel of light.^^ And it much enticed proud 
flesh, that he had no body of flesh. For they were mortal, 
and sinners; but Thou, Lord, to whom they proudly sought 
to be reconciled, art immortal, and without sin. But, a 
mediator between God and man must have something like 

"» Ps. xxxi. 23. 1" Eph. ii. 3. i<» 2 Cor. xi. 14. 



THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 205 

to God, something like to men; lest being in both like to 
man, he should be far from God: or if in both like God, too 
unlike man : and so not be a mediator. That deceitful medi- 
ator then, by whom in Thy secret judgments pride deserved 
to be deluded, hath one thing in common with man, that is 
sin; another he would seem to have in common with God; 
and not being clothed with the mortality of flesh, would 
vaunt himself to be immortal. But since the wages of sin 
is death,^'* this hath he in common with men, that with them 
he should be condemned to death. 

But the true Mediator, Whom in Thy secret mercy Thou 
hast showed to the humble, and sentest, that by His example 
also they might learn that same humility, that Mediator be- 
tween God and man, the Man Christ Jesus,^'" appeared be- 
twixt mortal sinners and the immortal Just One ; mortal with 
men, just with God: that because the wages of righteousness 
is life and peace. He might by a righteousness conjoined 
with God make void that death of sinners, now made right- 
eous, which He willed to have in common with them. 
Hence He was showed forth to holy men of old; that so 
they, through faith in His Passion to come, as we through 
faith of it passed, might be saved. For as Man, He was a 
Mediator; but as the Word, not in the middle between God 
and man, because equal to God, and God with God, and to- 
gether one God?) 

How hast Thou loved us. good Father, who sparedst not 
Thine only Son, hut deliver edst Him up for us ungodly!^'* 
How hast Thou loved us, for whom He that thought it no 
robbery to be equal with Thee, was made subject even to the 
death of the cross,^ He alone, free among the deadf^° having 
power to lay down his life, and power to take it again i"^^ for 
us to Thee both Victor and Victim, and therefore Victor, 
because the Victim; for us to Thee Priest and Sacrifice, 
and therefore Priest because the Sacrifice; making us to 
Thee, of servants, sons, by being born of Thee, and serving 
us. Well then is my hope strong in Him, that Thou wilt heal 
all my infirmities^ by Him Who sitteth at Thy right hand 
and maketh intercession for us;^^ else should I despair. For 

K»Rom. vi. 20. ""i Tim. ii. S- »««Roni. viii. 32. i<»Phil. ii. 6, 8. 
"oPs. Ixxxviii. S. ^John x. 18. "^ Ps- cii. 3. ^^^ Rom^ yjii^ ^^^ 



206 THE CONFESSIONS OF ST. AUGUSTINE 

many and great are my infirmities, many they are, and great ; 
but Thy medicine is mightier. We might imagine that Thy 
Word was far from any union with man, and despair of our- 
selves, unless He had been made flesh and dwelt among mj."* 
Affrighted with my sins and the burden of my misery, I 
had cast in my heart, and had purposed to Hee to the wil- 
derness:^ but Thou forbadest me, and strengthenedst me, 
saying. Therefore Christ died for all, that they which live 
may now no longer live unto themselves, hut unto Him that 
died for them^'^ See, Lord, I cast my care upon Thce,^" that I 
may live, and consider wondrous things out of Thy law."^ 
Thou knowest my unskilfulness, and my infirmities ; teach 
me, and heal me. He, Thine only Son, in Whom arc hid 
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,^^^ hath redeemed 
me with His blood. Let not the proud speak evil of m^;** 
because I meditate on my Ransom, and eat and drink, and 
communicate it; and poor, desired to be satisfied from Him, 
amongst those that eat and are satisfied, and they shall praise 
the Lord who seek Him.^ 



"*Tohn i. 12. "«Ps. Iv. 7. "'a Cor. v. 15. "' Ps. Iv. 22. 

"«Ps. cxix. 18. "»Col. ii. 3. «»Ps. cxix. 123.— Vulg. i»Ps. xxii. 26. 



THE IMITATION 
OF CHRIST 

BY 

THOMAS A KEMPIS 

TRANSLATED BY 
REV. WILLIAM BENHAM 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 

The treatise "Of the Imitation of Christ" appears to have been 
originally written in Latin early in the fifteenth century. Its 
exact date and its authorship are still a matter of debate. Manu- 
scripts of the Latin version survive in considerable numbers all 
over Western Europe, and they, with the vast list of translations 
and of printed editions, testify to its almost unparalleled popu- 
larity. One scribe attributes it to St. Bernard of Clairvaux; but 
the fact that it contains a quotation from St. Francis of Assist, 
who was born thirty years after the death of St. Bernard, disposes 
of this theory. In England there exist majiy manuscripts of the 
first three books, called "Musica Ecclesiastica," frequently ascribed 
to the English mystic Walter Hilton. But Hilton seems to have 
died in 1395, and there is no evidence of the existence of the work 
before 1400. Many manuscripts scattered throughout Europe 
ascribe the book to Jean le Charlier de Gerson, the great Chan- 
cellor of the University of Paris, who was a leading figure in the 
Chttrch in the earlier part of the fifteenth century. The most 
probable author, however, especially when the internal evidence is 
considered, is Thomas Haemmerlein, known also as Thomas a 
Kempis, from his native town of Kempen, near the Rhine, about 
forty miles north of Cologne. Haemmerlein, who was born in 
1379 or 1380, was a member of the order of the Brothers of 
Common Life, and spent the last seventy years of his life at 
Mount St. Agnes, a monastery of Augustinian canons in the 
diocese of Utrecht. Here he died on July 26, 1471, after an un- 
eventful life spent in copying manuscripts, reading, and compos- 
ing, and in the peaceful routine of monastic piety. 

With the exception of the Bible, no Christian writing has had 
so wide a vogue or so sustained a popularity as this. And yet, 
in one sense, it is hardly an original work at all. Its structure 
it owes largely to the writings of the medieval mystics, and its 
ideas and phrases are a mosaic from the Bible and the Father's of 
the early Church. But these elements are interwoven with such 
delicate skill and a religious feeling at once so ardent and so 
sound that it promises to remain, what it has been for five hun- 
dred years, the supreme call and guide to spiritual aspiration. 



CONTENTS 

BOOK I 

VACS 

Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life . . . 213 

CHAP. 

I. Of the Imitation of Christ, and of Contempt of the World 

and all its Vanities 213 

II. Of thinking humbly of Oneself 214 

III. Of the Knowledge of Truth 215 

IV. Of Prudence in Action 217 

V. Of the Reading of Holy Scripture 218 

VI. Of Inordinate Affections 219 

VII. Of fleeing from Vain Hope and Pride 219 

VIII. Of the Danger of too much Familiarity 220 

IX. Of Obedience and Subjection 221 

X. Of the Danger of Superfluity of Words 221 

XI. Of seeking Peace of Mind, and of Spiritual Progress . . . 222 

XII. Of the Uses of Adversity 224 

XIII. Of resisting Temptation 224 

XIV. On avoiding Rash Judgment 226 

XV. Of Works of Charity 227 

XVI. Of bearing with the Faults of Others 228 

XVII. Of a Religious Life 229 

XVIII. Of the Example of the Holy Fathers 229 

XIX. Of the Exercises of a Religious Man 231 

XX. Of the Love of Solitude and Silence 233 

XXI. Of Compunction of Heart 235 

XXII. Of the Contemplation of Human Misery 237 

XXIII. Of Meditation upon Death 239 

XXIV. Of the Judgment and Punishment of the Wicked .... 242 
XXV. Of the Zealous Amendment of our Whole Life 244 

BOOK II 

PAGE 

Admonitions Concerning the Inner Life 248 

CHAP. 

I. Of the Inward Life 248 

II. Of Lowly Submission 250 

209 



210 CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

III. Of the Good, Peaceable Man 251 

IV. Of a Pure Mind and Simple Intention 252 

V. Of Self-Esteem 253 

VI. Of the Joy of a Good Conscience 254 

VII. Of loving Jesus above all Things 255 

VIII. Of the Intimate Love of Jesus 256 

IX. Of the Lack of all Comfort 257 

X. Of Gratitude for the Grace of God 260 

XI. Of the Fewness of those who love the Cross of Jesus . . . 262 

XII. Of the Royal Way of the Holy Cross 263 

BOOK III 

PAGE 

On Inward Consolation 268 

CHAP. 

I. Of the Inward Voice of Christ to the Faithful Soul . . . 268 

II. What the Truth saith inwardly without Noise of Words . 269 

III. How all the Words of God are to be heard with Humility, 

and how many consider them not 270 

IV. How we must walk in Truth and Humility before God . .272 
V. Of the Wonderful Power of the Divine Love 273 

VI. Of the Proving of the True Lover 275 

VII. Of hiding our Grace under the Guard of Humility . . . 277 

VIII. Of a Low Estimation of Self in the Sight of God . . . 279 

IX. That all Things are to be referred to God as the Final End . 280 

X. That it is Sweet to despise the World and to serve God . . 281 

XI. That the Desires of the Heart are to be Examined and 

Governed 282 

XII. Of the Inward Growth of Patience, and of the Struggle 

against Evil Desires 283 

XIII. Of the Obedience of One in Lowly Subjection after the 

Example of Jesus Christ 285 

XIV. Of Meditation upon the Hidden Judgments of God, that we 

may not be lifted up because of our Well-doing . . . 286 
XV. How we must Stand and Speak in Everything that we 

desire 287 

XVI. That True Solace is to be sought in God alone .... 288 

XVII. That all Care is to I e Cast upon God 289 

XVIII. That Temporal Miseries are to be borne patiently after the 

Example of Christ 290 

XIX. Of bearing Injuries, and who shall be approved as truly 

Patient 29» 

XX. Of Confession of our Infirmity and of the Miseries of this 

Life 292 

XXI. That we must Rest in God above all Goods and Gifts . . 294 

XXII. Of the Recollection of God's Manifold Benefits .... 296 

XXIII. Of Four Things which bring Great Peace 297 

XXIV. Of avoiding Curious Inquiry into the Life of Another . . 299 
XXV. Wherein Firm Peace of Heart and True Profit consist . . 300 



CONTENTS 211 

CHAP. PAGE 

XXVI. Of the Exaltation of a Free Spirit, which Humble Prayer 

more deserveth than doth Frequent Reading . . 301 
XXVII. That Personal Love greatly hindereth from the Highest 

Good 302 

XXVIII. Against the Tongues of Detractors 303 

XXIX. How when Tribulation cometh we must call upon and 

bless God 304 

XXX. Of seeking Divine Help, and the Confidence of obtaining 

Grace 305 

XXXI. Of the Neglect of every Creature, that the Creator may 

be found 3^7 

XXXII. Of Self-denial and the casting away all Selfishness . . 308 

XXXIII. Of Instability of the Heart, and of directing the Aim 

towards God 309 

XXXIV. That to Him who loveth God is Sweet above all Things 

and in all Things 310 

XXXV. That there is no Security against Temptation in this Life 311 

XXXVI. Against Vain Judgments of Men 312 

XXXVII. Of Pure and Entire Resignation of Self, for the obtaining 

Liberty of Heart 313 

XXXVIII. Of a Good Government in External Things, and of having 

Recourse to God in Dangers 31S 

XXXIX. That Man must not be Immersed in Business . . . . 316 
XL. That Man hath no Good in Himself, and nothing whereof 

to Glory 316 

XLI. Of Contempt of all Temporal Honour 318 

XLII. That our Peace is not to be placed in Men 318 

XLIII. Against Vain and Worldly Knowledge 319 

XLIV. Of not troubling Ourselves about Outward Things . . • 320 
XLV. That we must not believe Everyone, and that we are prone 

to fall in our Words 321 

XL VI. Of having Confidence in God when Evil Words are cast at us 323 
XLVII. That all Troubles are to be endured for the sake of Eternal 

Life 324 

XLVIII. Of the Day of Eternity and of the Straitnesses of this Life 326 
XLIX. Of the Desire after Eternal Life, and how Great Blessings 

are promised to those who strive 328 

L. How a Desolate Man ought to commit Himself into the 

Hands of God 330 

LI. That we must give Ourselves to Humble Works when we 

are unequal to those that are Lofty 333 

LII. That a Man ought not to reckon Himself worthy of Con- 
solation, but more worthy of Chastisement . . . 334 
LIII. That the Grace of God does not join itself to those who 

mind Earthly Things 335 

LIV. Of the Diverse Motions of Nature and of Grace . . . 336 

LV. Of the Corruption of Nature and the Efficacy of Divine Grace 339 
LVI. That we ought to deny Ourselves, and to imitate Christ by 

Means of the Cross 341 



212 CONTENTS 

CHAP. PACI 

LVII. That a Man must not be too much Cast Down when he fall- 

eth into some Fault 343 

LVIII. Of Deeper Matters, and God's Hidden Judgments which are 

not to be Inquired into 344 

LIX. That all Hope and Trust is to be Fixed in God alone . . 347 

BOOK IV 

PAGE 

Of the Sacrament of the Altar 349 

CHAP. 

I. With how Great Reverence Christ must be Received . . 349 
II. That the Greatness and Charity of God is shown to Men in 

the Sacrament 353 

III. That it is Profitable to Communicate often 355 

IV. That many Good Gifts are bestowed upon those who Com- 

municate devoutly 357 

V. Of the Dignity of this Sacrament, and of the Office of the 

Priest 3S9 

VI. An Inquiry concerning Preparation for Communion . . 360 
VII. Of the Examination of Conscience and Purpose of Amend- 
ment 360 

VIII. Of the Oblation of Christ upon the Cross, and of Resigna- 
tion of Self 362 

IX. That we ought to offer Ourselves and all that is Ours to 

God, and to Pray for all 363 

X. That Holy Communion is not lightly to be omitted . . . 365 
XI. That the Body and Blood of Christ and the Holy Scriptures 

are most necessary to a Faithful Soul 367 

XII. That he who is about to Communicate with Christ ought to 

Prepare Himself with Great Diligence 370 

XIII. That the Devout Soul ought with the whole heart to yearn 

after Union with Christ in the Sacrament . . . 37' 

XIV. Of the Fervent Desire of certain devout Persons to receive 

the Body and Blood of Christ 373 

XV. That the Grace of Devotion is acquired by Humility and 

Self-Denial 374 

XVI. That we ought to lay open our Necessities to Christ and to 

require His Grace 375 

XVII. Of Fervent Love and Vehement Desire of receiving Christ . 376 
XVIII. That a Man should not be a Curious Searcher of the Sacra- 
ment, but a humble Imitator of Christ, submitting his 
Sense to Holy Faith 378 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

THE FIRST BOOK 

ADMONITIONS PROFITABLE FOR THE 
SPIRITUAL LIFE 

CHAPTER I 

Of the imitation of Christ, and of contempt of the world 
and all its vanities 

TT "YE that followeth me shall not walk in darkness^ saith 
/~y the Lord. These are the words of Christ; and they 
teach us how far we must imitate His life and char- 
acter, if we seek true illumination, and deliverance from 
all bHndness of heart. Let it be our most earnest study, 
therefore, to dwell upon the life of Jesus Christ. 

2. His teaching surpasseth all teaching of holy men, and 
such as have His Spirit find therein the hidden manna.' But 
there are many who, though they frequently hear the Gospel, 
yet feel but little longing after it, because they have not the 
mind of Christ. He, therefore, that will fully and with true 
wisdom understand the words of Christ, let him strive to 
conform his whole life to that mind of Christ. 

3. What doth it profit thee to enter into deep discussion 
concerning the Holy Trinity, if thou lack humility, and be 
thus displeasing to the Trinity? For verily it is not deep 
words that make a man holy and upright; it is a good life 
which maketh a man dear to God. I had rather feel con- 
trition than be skilful in the definition thereof. If thou 
knewest the whole Bible, and the sayings of all the philoso- 
phers, what should all this profit thee without the love 

*■ John viii. 12. ^ Revelations ii. 17. 

213 



214 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

and grace of God? Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, save 
to love God, and Him only to serve. That is the highest 
wisdom, to cast the world behind us, and to reach forward 
to the heavenly kingdom. 

4. It is vanity then to seek after, and to trust in, the 
riches that shall perish. It is vanity, too, to covet honours, 
and to lift up ourselves on high. It is vanity to follow the 
desires of the flesh and be led by them, for this shall bring 
misery at the last. It is vanity to desire a long life, and to 
have little care for a good life. It is vanity to take thought 
only for the life which now is, and not to look forward 
to the things which shall be hereafter. It is vanity to love 
that which quickly passeth away, and not to hasten where 
eternal joy abideth. 

5. Be ofttimes mindful of the saying,* The eye is not 
satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing. Strive, 
therefore, to turn away thy heart from the love of the 
things that are seen, and to set it upon the things that are 
not seen. For they who follow after their own fleshly lusts, 
defile the conscience, and destroy the grace of God. 



CHAPTER II 

Of thinking humbly of oneself 

There is naturally in every man a desire to know, but 
what profiteth knowledge without the fear of God? Better 
of a surety is a lowly peasant who serveth God, than a 
proud philosopher who watcheth the stars and neglecteth 
the knowledge of himself. He who knoweth himself well 
is vile in his own sight; neither regardeth he the praises 
of men. If I knew all the things that are in the world, 
and were not in charity, what should it help me before God, 
who is to judge me according to my deeds? 

2. Rest from inordinate desire of knowledge, for therein 
is found much distraction and deceit. Those who have 
knowledge desire to appear learned, and to be called wise. 
Many things there are to know which profiteth little or 
nothing to the soul. And foolish out of measure is he who 

* Ecclesiastcs i. 8. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 215 

attendeth upon other things rather than those which serve 
to his soul's health. Many words satisfy not the soul, but 
a good life refresheth the mind, and a pure conscience giveth 
great confidence towards God. 

3. The greater and more complete thy knowledge, the 
more severely shalt thou be judged, unless thou hast lived 
holily. Therefore be not lifted up by any skill or knowledge 
that thou hast; but rather fear concerning the knowledge 
which is given to thee. If it seemeth to thee that thou 
knowest many things, and understandest them well, know 
also that there are many more things which thou knowest 
not. Be not high-minded, but rather confess thine ignor- 
ance. Why desirest thou to lift thyself above another, 
when there are found many more learned and more skilled 
in the Scripture than thou? If thou wilt know and learn 
anything with profit, love to be thyself unknown and to be 
counted for nothing. 

4. That is the highest and most profitable lesson, when 
a man truly knoweth and judgeth lowly of himself. To 
account nothing of one's self, and to think always kindly 
and highly of others, this is great and perfect wisdom. Even 
shouldest thou see thy neighbour sin openly or grievously, 
yet thou oughtest not to reckon thyself better than he, for 
thou knowest not how long thou shalt keep thine integrity. 
All of us are weak and frail; hold thou no man more frail 
than thyself. 



CHAPTER III 
Of the knowledge of truth 

Happy is the man whom Truth by itself doth teach, not by 
figures and transient words, but as it is in itself.* Our 
own judgment and feelings often deceive us, and we discern 
but little of the truth. What doth it profit to argue about 
hidden and dark things, concerning which we shall not be 
even reproved in the judgment, because we knew them 
not? Oh, grievous folly, to neglect the things which are 
profitable and necessary, and to give our minds to 

'•Psalm xciv. 12; Numbers xii. 8. 



216 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

things which are curious and hurtful ! Having eyes, we 
see not. 

2. And what have we to do with talk about genus and 
species ! He to whom the Eternal Word speaketh is free 
from multiplied questionings. From this One Word are 
all things, and all things speak of Him ; and this is the Be- 
ginning which also speaketh unto us.^ No man without 
Him understandeth or rightly judgeth. The man to whom 
all things are one, who bringeth all things to one, who 
seeth all things in one, he is able to remain steadfast of 
spirit, and at rest in God. O God, who art the Truth, make 
me one with Thee in everlasting love. It wearieth me often- 
times to read and listen to many things; in Thee is all that 
I wish for and desire. Let all the doctors hold their peace; 
let all creation keep silence before Thee: speak Thou alone 
to me. 

3. The more a man hath unity and simplicity in himself, 
the more things and the deeper things he understandeth ; and 
that without labour, because he receiveth the light of under- 
standing from above. The spirit which is pure, sincere, and 
steadfast, is not distracted though it hath many works to do, 
because it doth all things to the honour of God, and striveth 
to be free from all thoughts of self-seeking. Who is so 
full of hindrance and annoyance to thee as thine own 
undisciplined heart? A man who is good and devout 
arrangeth beforehand within his own heart the works which 
he hath to do abroad; and so is not drawn away by the 
desires of his evil will, but subjecteth everything to the 
judgment of right reason. Who hath a harder battle to 
fight than he who striveth for self-mastery? And this should 
be our endeavour, even to master self, and thus daily to 
grow stronger than self, and go on unto perfection. 

4. All perfection hath some imperfection joined to it in 
this life, and all our power of sight is not without some dark- 
ness. A lowly knowledge of thyself is a surer way to God 
than the deep searchings of man's learning. Not that learn- 
ing is to be blamed, nor the taking account of anything 
that is good ; but a good conscience and a holy life is better 
than all. And because many seek knowledge rather than 

•John viii. 25 (Vulg.). 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 217 

good living, therefore they go astray, and bear little or no 
fruit. 

5. O if they would give that diligence to the rooting out 
of vice and the planting of virtue which they give unto vain 
questionings : there had not been so many evil doings and 
stumbling-blocks among the laity, nor such ill living among 
houses of religion. Of a surety, at the Day of Judgment 
it will be demanded of us, not what we have read, but what 
we have done ; not how well we have spoken, but how holily 
we have lived. Tell me, where now are all those masters 
and teachers, whom thou knewest well, whilst they were 
yet with you, and flourished in learning? Their stalls are 
now filled by others, who perhaps never have one thought 
concerning them. Whilst they lived they seemed to be some- 
what, but now no one speaks of them. 

6. Oh how quickly passeth the glory of the world away! 
Would that their life and knowledge had agreed together ! 
For then would they have read and inquired unto good 
purpose. How many perish through empty learning in this 
world, who care little for serving God. And because they 
love to be great more than to be humble, therefore they 
" have become vain in their imaginations." He only is truly 
great, who hath great charity. He is truly great who 
deemeth himself small, and counteth all height of honour 
as nothing. He is the truly wise man, who counteth all 
earthly things as dung that he may win Christ. And he is 
the truly learned man, who doeth the will of God, and for- 
saketh his own will. 



CHAPTER IV 
Of prudence in action 

We must not trust every word of others or feeling within 
ourselves, but cautiously and patiently try the matter, 
whether it be of God. Unhappily we are so weak that we 
find it easier to believe and speak evil of others, rather than 
good. But they that are perfect, do not give ready heed 
to every news-bearer, for they know man's weakness that 
it is prone to evil and unstable in words. 



218 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

2. This is great wisdom, not to be hasty in action, or 
stubborn in our own opinions. A part of this wisdom also 
is not to believe every word we hear, nor to tell others all 
that we hear, even though we believe it. Take counsel with 
a man who is wise and of a good conscience; and seek to be 
instructed by one better than thyself, rather than to follow 
thine own inventions. A good life maketh a man wise 
toward God, and giveth him experience in many things. 
The more humble a man is in himself, and the more obe- 
dient towards God, the wiser will he be in all things, and 
the more shall his soul be at peace. 



CHAPTER V 
Of the reading of Holy Scriptures 

It is Truth which we must look for in Holy Writ, not cun- 
ning of words. All Scripture ought to be read in the spirit 
in which it was written. We must rather seek for what 
is profitable in Scripture, than for what ministereth to 
subtlety in discourse. Therefore we ought to read books 
which are devotional and simple, as well as those which 
are deep and difficult. And let not the weight of the writer 
be a stumbling-block to thee, whether he be of little or 
much learning, but let the love of the pure Truth draw 
thee to read. Ask not, who hath said this or that, but 
look to what he says. 

2. Men pass away, but the truth of the Lord endureth for 
ever. Without respect of persons God speaketh to us in 
divers manners. Our own curiosity often hindereth us in 
the reading of holy writings, when we seek to understand 
and discuss, where we should pass simply on. If thou 
wouldst profit by thy reading, read humbly, simply, honestly, 
and not desiring to win a character for learning. Ask 
freely, and hear in silence the words of holy men; nor be 
displeased at the hard sayings of older men than thou, for 
they are not uttered without cause. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 219 

CHAPTER VI 
Of inordinate affections 

Whensoever a man desireth aught above measure, imme- 
diately he becometh restless. The proud and the avaricious 
man are never at rest; while the poor and lowly of heart 
abide in the multitude of peace. The man who is not yet 
wholly dead to self, is soon tempted, and is overcome in 
small and trifling matters. It is hard for him who is weak 
in spirit, and still in part carnal and inclined to the pleasures 
of sense, to withdraw himself altogether from earthly de- 
sires. And therefore, when he withdraweth himself from 
these, he is often sad, and easily angered too if any oppose 
his will. 

2. But if, on the other hand, he yield to his inclination, 
immediately he is weighed down by the condemnation of 
his conscience; for that he hath followed his own desire, 
and yet in no way attained the peace which he hoped for. 
For true peace of heart is to be found in resisting passion, 
not in yielding to it. And therefore there is no peace in 
the heart of a man who is carnal, nor in him who is given 
up to the things that are without him, but only in him who 
is fervent towards God and living the life of the Spirit. 

CHAPTER VII 
Of fleeing from vain hope and pride 

Vain is the life of that man who putteth his trust in men 
or in any created Thing. Be not ashamed to be the servant 
of others for the love of Jesus Christ, and to be reckoned 
poor in this life. Rest not upon thyself, but build thy hope 
in God. Do what lieth in thy power, and God will help 
thy good intent. Trust not in thy learning, nor in the 
cleverness of any that lives, but rather trust in the favour 
of God, who resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the 
humble. 

2. Boast not thyself in thy riches if thou hast them, 
nor in thy friends if they be powerful, but in God, who 
giveth all things, and in addition to all things desireth to 



220 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

give even Himself. Be not lifted up because of thy strength 
or beauty of body, for with only a slight sickness it will 
fail and wither away. Be not vain of thy skilfulness or 
ability, lest thou displease God, from whom cometh every 
good gift which we have. 

3. Count not thyself better than others, lest perchance 
thou appear worse in the sight of God, who knoweth what 
is in man. Be not proud of thy good works, for God's 
judgments are of another sort than the judgments of man, 
and what pleaseth man is ofttimes displeasing to Him. If 
thou hast any good, believe that others have more, and so 
thou mayest preserve thy humility. It is no harm to thee 
if thou place thyself below all others; but it is great harm 
if thou place thyself above even one. Peace is ever with 
the humble man, but in the heart of the proud there is envy 
and continual wrath. 



CHAPTER VIII 
Of the danger of too much familiarity 

Open not thine heart to every man, but deal with one who 
is wise and feareth God. Be seldom with the young and 
with strangers. Be not a flatterer of the rich ; nor willingly 
seek the society of the great. Let thy company be the 
humble and the simple, the devout and the gentle, and let 
thy discourse be concerning things which edify. Be not 
familiar with any woman, but commend all good women 
alike unto God. Choose for thy companions God and His 
Angels only, and flee from the notice of men. 

2. We must love all men, but not make close companions 
of all. It sometimes falleth out that one who is unknown 
to us is highly regarded through good report of him, whose 
actual person is nevertheless unpleasing to those who behold 
it. We sometimes think to please others by our intimacy, 
and forthwith displease them the more by the faultiness of 
character which they perceive in us. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 221 

CHAPTER IX 

Of obedience and subjection 

It is verily a great thing to live in obedience, to be under 
authority, and not to be at our own disposal. Far safer is it 
to live in subjection than in a place of authority. Many are 
in obedience from necessity rather than from love; these 
take it amiss, and repine for small cause. Nor will they 
gain freedom of spirit, unless with all their heart they sub- 
mit themselves for the love of God. Though thou run hither 
and thither, thou wilt not find peace, save in humble sub- 
jection to the authority of him who is set over thee. Fancies 
about places and change of them have deceived many. 

2. True it is that every man willingly followeth his own 
bent, and is the more inclined to those who agree with him. 
But if Christ is amongst us, then it is necessary that we 
sometimes yield up our own opinion for the sake of peace. 
Who is so wise as to have perfect knowledge of all things? 
Therefore trust not too much to thine own opinion, but be 
ready also to hear the opinions of others. Though thine 
own opinion be good, yet if for the love of God thou fore- 
goest it, and followest that of another, thou shalt the more 
profit thereby. 

3. Ofttimes I have heard that it is safer to hearken and 
to receive counsel than to give it. It may also come to 
pass that each opinion may be good ; but to refuse to hearken 
to others when reason or occasion requireth it, is a mark 
of pride or wilfulness, 

CHAPTER X 
Of the danger of superfluity of words 

Avoid as far as thou canst the tumult of men; for talk 
concerning worldly things, though it be innocently under- 
taken, is a hindrance, so quickly are we led captive and 
defiled by vanity. Many a time I wish that I had held my 
peace, and had not gone amongst men. But why do we 
talk and gossip so continually, seeing that we so rarely re- 



222 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

sume our silence without some hurt done to our conscience? 
We like talking so much because we hope by our conver- 
sations to gain some mutual comfort, and because we seek 
to refresh our wearied spirits by variety of thoughts. And 
we very willingly talk and think of those things which we 
love or desire, or else of those which we most dislike. 

2. But alas ! it is often to no purpose and in vain. For 
this outward consolation is no small hindrance to the inner 
comfort which cometh from God. Therefore must we watch 
and pray that time pass not idly away. If it be right and 
desirable for thee to speak, speak things which are to edifi- 
cation. Evil custom and neglect of our real profit tend 
much to make us heedless of watching over our lips. Never- 
theless, devout conversation on spiritual things helpeth not 
a little to spiritual progress, most of all where those of 
kindred mind and spirit find their ground of fellowship 
in God. 



CHAPTER XI 
Of seeking peace of mind and of spiritual progress 

We may enjoy abundance of peace if we refrain from busy- 
ing ourselves with the sayings and doings of others, and 
things which concern not ourselves. How can he abide 
long time in peace who occupieth himself with other men's 
matters, and with things without himself, and meanwhile 
payeth little or rare heed to the self within? Blessed are 
the single-hearted, for they shall have abundance of peace. 

2. How came it to pass that many of the Saints were so 
perfect, so contemplative of Divine things? Because they 
steadfastly sought to mortify themselves from all worldly 
desires, and so were enabled to cling with their whole heart 
to God, and be free and at leisure for the thought of Him. 
We are too much occupied with our own affections, and too 
anxious about transitory things. Seldom, too, do we entirely 
conquer even a single fault, nor are we zealous for daily 
growth in grace. And so we remain lukewarm and un- 
spiritual. 

3. Were we fully watchful of ourselves, and not bound 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 223 

in spirit to outward things, then might we be wise unto 
salvation, and make progress in Divine contemplation. Our 
great and grievous stumbling-block is that, not being freed 
from our affections and desires, we strive not to enter into 
the perfect way of the Saints. And when even a little 
trouble befalleth us, too quickly are we cast down, and fly 
to the world to give us comfort. 

4. If we would quit ourselves like men, and strive to 
stand firm in the battle, then should we see the Lord helping 
us from Heaven. For He Himself is alway ready to help 
those who strive and who trust in Him; yea. He provideth 
for us occasions of striving, to the end that we may win the 
victory. If we look upon our progress in religion as a 
progress only in outward observances and forms, our devout- 
ness will soon come to an end. But let us lay the axe to the 
very root of our life, that, being cleansed from affections, 
we may possess our souls in peace. 

5. If each year should see one fault rooted out from us, 
we should go quickly on to perfection. But on the contrary, 
we often feel that we were better and holier in the begin- 
ning of our conversion than after many years of profession. 
Zeal and progress ought to increase day by day; yet now it 
seemeth a great thing if one is able to retain some portion 
of his first ardour. If we would put some slight stress on 
ourselves at the beginning, then afterwards we should be 
able to do all things with ease and joy. 

6. It is a hard thing to break through a habit, and a yet 
harder thing to go contrary to our own will. Yet if thou 
overcome not slight and easy obstacles, how shalt thou over- 
come greater ones? Withstand thy will at the beginning, 
and unlearn an evil habit, lest it lead thee little by little 
into worse difficulties. Oh, if thou knewest what peace to 
thyself thy holy life should bring to thyself, and what joy 
to others, methinketh thou wouldst be more zealous for 
spiritual profit. 



224 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

CHAPTER XII 
Of the uses of adversity 

It is good for us that we sometimes have sorrows and adver- 
sities, for they often make a man lay to heart that he is only a 
stranger and sojourner, and may not put his trust in any 
worldly thing. It is good that we sometimes endure con- 
tradictions, and are hardly and unfairly judged, when we 
do and mean what is good. For these things help us to be 
humble, and shield us from vain-glory. For then we seek 
the more earnestly the witness of God, when men speak 
evil of us falsely, and give us no credit for good. 

2. Therefore ought a man to rest wholly upon God, so 
that he needeth not seek much comfort at the hand of men. 
When a man who feareth God is afflicted or tried or oppressed 
with evil thoughts, then he seeth that God is the more 
necessary unto him. since without God he can do no good 
thing. Then he is heavy of heart, he groaneth. he crieth 
out for the very disquietness of his heart. Then he groweth 
weary of life, and would fain depart and be with Christ. 
By all this he is taught that in the world there can be no 
perfect security or fulness of peace. 



CHAPTER XIII 
Of resisting temptation 

So long as we live in the world, we cannot be without trouble 
and trial. Wherefore it is written in Job, The life of man 
upon the earth is a trial} And therefore ought each of us 
to give heed concerning trials and temptations, and watch 
unto prayer, lest the devil find occasion to deceive ; for 
he never sleepeth, but goeth about seeking whom he may 
devour. No man is so perfect in holiness that he hath never 
temptations, nor can we ever be wholly free from them. 

2. Yet, notwithstanding, temptations turn greatly unto 
our profit, even though they be great and hard to bear; for 
through them we are humbled, purified, instructed. All 

* Job vii. I (V'ulg.). 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 225 

Saints have passed through much tribulation and temptation, 
and have profited thereby. And they who endured not temp- 
tation became reprobate and fell away. There is no 
position so sacred, no place so secret, that it is without 
temptations and adversities. 

3. There is no man wholly free from temptations so long 
as he liveth, because we have the root of temptation within 
ourselves, in that we are born in concupiscence. One temp- 
tation or sorrow passeth, and another cometh; and always 
we shall have somewhat to suffer, for we have fallen from 
perfect happiness. Many who seek to fly from temptations 
fall yet more deeply into them. By flight alone we cannot 
overcome, but by endurance and true humility we are made 
stronger than all our enemies. 

4. He who only resisteth outwardly and pulleth not up by 
the root, shall profit little; nay, rather temptations will 
return to him the more quickly, and will be the more ter- 
rible. Little by little, through patience and longsuffering, 
thou shalt conquer by the help of God, rather than by violence 
and thine own strength of will. In the midst of temptation 
often seek counsel ; and deal not hardly with one who is 
tempted, but comfort and strengthen him as thou wouldest 
have done unto thyself. 

5. The beginning of all temptations to evil is instability 
of temper and want of trust in God ; for even as a ship with- 
out a helm is tossed about by the waves, so is a man who is 
careless and infirm of purpose tempted, now on this side, now 
on that. As fire testeth iron, so doth temptation the upright 
man. Oftentimes we know not what strength we have; but 
temptation revealeth to us what we are. Nevertheless, we 
must watch, especially in the beginnings of temptation; for 
then is the foe the more easily mastered, when he is not 
suffered to enter within the mind, but is met outside the 
door as soon as he hath knocked. Wherefore one saith, 

Check the beginnings ; once thou might' st have cured, 
But now 'tis past thy skill, too long hath it endured. 

For first cometh to the mind the simple suggestion, then the 
strong imagination, afterwards pleasure, evil affection, assent. 
And so little by little the enemy entereth in altogether, be- 
8— HC vn 



226 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

cause he was not resisted at the beginning. And the longer 
a man delayeth his resistance, the weaker he groweth, and 
the stronger groweth the enemy against him. 

6. Some men suffer their most grievous temptations in the 
beginning of their conversion, some at the end. Some are 
sorely tried their whole life long. Some there are who are 
tempted but lightly, according to the wisdom and justice 
of the ordering of God, who knoweth the character and cir- 
cumstances of men, and ordereth all things for the welfare 
of His elect. 

7. Therefore we ought not to despair when we are tempted, 
but the more fervently should cry unto God, that He will 
vouchsafe to help us in all our tribulation ; and that He will, 
as St. Paul saith, with the temptation make a way to escape 
that we may be able to bear it." Let us therefore humble 
ourselves under the mighty hand of God in all temptation 
and trouble, for He will save and exalt such as are of an 
humble spirit. 

8. In temptations and troubles a man is proved, what prog- 
ress he hath made, and therein is his reward the greater, 
and his virtue doth the more appear. Nor is it a great thing 
if a man be devout and zealous so long as he suffereth no 
affliction; but if he behave himself patiently in the time of 
adversity, then is there hope of great progress. Some are 
kept safe from great temptations, but are overtaken in those 
which are little and common, that the humiliation may teach 
them not to trust to themselves in great things, being weak 
in small things. 

CHAPTER XIV 
On avoiding rash judgment 

Look well unto thyself, and beware that thou judge not the 
doings of others. In judging others a man laboureth in vain ; 
he often erreth, and easily falleth into sin ; but in judging 
and examining himself he always laboureth to good purpose. 
According as a matter toucheth our fancy, so oftentimes do 
we judge of it; for easily do we fail of true judgment be- 
cause of our own personal feeling. If God were always 

* I Corinthians x. 13. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 227 

the sole object of our desire, we should the less easily be 
troubled by the erring judgment of our fancy. 

2. But often some secret thought lurking within us, or 
even some outward circumstance, turneth us aside. Many 
are secretly seeking their own ends in what they do, yet 
know it not. They seem to live in good peace of mind so 
long as things go well with them, and according to their 
desires, but if their desires be frustrated and broken, im- 
mediately they are shaken and displeased. Diversity of 
feelings and opinions very often brings about dissensions 
between friends, between countrymen, between religious 
and godly men. 

3. Established custom is not easily relinquished, and no 
man is very easily led to see with the eyes of another. If 
thou rest more upon thy own reason or experience than upon 
the power of Jesus Christ, thy light shall come slowly and 
hardly; for God willeth us to be perfectly subject unto Him- 
self, and all our reason to be exalted by abundant love 
towards Him. 

CHAPTER XV 
Of works of charity 

For no worldly good whatsoever, and for the love of no man, 
must anything be done which is evil, but for the help of the 
suffering a good work must sometimes be postponed, or be 
changed for a better ; for herein a good work is not destroyed, 
but improved. Without charity no work profiteth, but what- 
soever is done in charity, however small and of no reputation 
it be, bringeth forth good fruit; for God verily considereth 
what a man is able to do, more than the greatness of what 
he doth. 

2. He doth much who loveth much. He doth much who 
doth well. He doth well who ministereth to the public good 
rather than to his own. Oftentimes that seemeth to be 
charity which is rather carnality, because it springeth from 
natural inclination, self-will, hope of repayment, desire of 
gain. 

3. He who hath true and perfect charity, in no wise seeketh 
his own good, but desireth that God alone be altogether 



228 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

glorified. He envieth none, because he longeth for no selfish 
joy; nor doth he desire to rejoice in himself, but longeth to 
be blessed in God as the highest good. He ascribeth good 
to none save to God only, the Fountain whence all good 
proceedeth, and the End, the Peace, the joy of all Saints. 
Oh, he who hath but a spark of true charity, hath verily 
learned that all worldly things are full of vanity. 

CHAPTER XVI 
, Of bearing with the faults of others 

Those things which a man cannot amend in himself or in 
others, he ought patiently to bear, until God shall otherwise 
ordain. Bethink thee that perhaps it is better for thy trial 
and patience, without which our merits are but little worth. 
Nevertheless thou oughtest, when thou findeth such impedi- 
ments, to beseech God that He would vouchsafe to sustain 
thee, that thou be able to bear them with a good will. 

2. If one who is once or twice admonished refuse to 
hearken, strive not with him, but commit all to God, that His 
will may be done and His honour be shown in His servants, 
for He knoweth well how to convert the evil unto good. 
Endeavour to be patient in bearing with other men's faults 
and infirmities whatsoever they be, for thou thyself also hast 
many things which have need to be borne with by others. 
If thou canst not make thine own self what thou desireth, 
how shalt thou be able to fashion another to thine own lik- 
ing. We are ready to see others made perfect, and yet we 
do not amend our own shortcomings. 

3. We will that others be straitly corrected, but we will 
not be corrected ourselves. The freedom of others dis- 
pleaseth us, but we are dissatisfied that our own wishes shall 
be denied us. We desire rules to be made restraining others, 
but by no means will we suffer ourselves to be restrained. 
Thus therefore doth it plainly appear how seldom we weigh 
our neighbour in the same balance with ourselves. If all 
men were perfect, what then should we have to suffer from 
others for God? 

4. But now hath God thus ordained, that we may learn to 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 229 

bear one another's burdens, because none is without defect, 
none without a burden, none sufficient of himself, none wise 
enough of himself; but it behoveth us to bear with one an- 
other, to comfort one another, to help, instruct, admonish 
one another. How much strength each man hath is best 
proved by occasions of adversity : for such occasions do not 
make a man frail, but show of what temper he is. 



CHAPTER XVII 
Of a religious life 

It behoveth thee to learn to mortify thyself in many things, 
if thou wilt live in amity and concord with other men. It 
is no small thing to dwell in a religious community or con- 
gregation, and to live there without complaint, and therein to 
remain faithful even unto death. Blessed is he who hath 
lived a good life in such a body, and brought it to a happy 
end. If thou wilt stand fast and wilt profit as thou oughtest, 
hold thyself as an exile and a pilgrim upon the earth. Thou 
wilt have to be counted as a fool for Christ, if thou wilt 
lead a religious life. 

2. The clothing and outward appearance are of small ac- 
count; it is change of character and entire mortification of 
the affections which make a truly religious man. He who 
seeketh aught save God and the health of his soul, shall find 
only tribulation and sorrow. Nor can he stand long in 
peace, who striveth not to be least of all and servant of all. 

3. Thou art called to endure and to labour, not to a life of 
ease and triflling talk. Here therefore are men tried as gold 
in the furnace. No man can stand, unless with all his heart 
he will humble himself for God's sake. 

CHAPTER XVIII 

Of the example of the Holy Fathers 

Consider now the lively examples of the holy fathers, in 
whom shone forth real perfectness and religion, and thou 
shalt see how little, even as nothing, is all that we do. Ah ! 



230 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

What is our life when compared to theirs? They, saints and 
friends of Christ as they were, served the Lord in hunger 
and thirst, in cold and nakedness, in labour and weariness, 
in watchings and fastings, in prayer and holy meditations, in 
persecutions and much rebuke. 

2. O how many and grievous tribulations did the Apostles, 
Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, endure; and all others who 
would walk in the footsteps of Christ. For they hated their 
souls in this world that they might keep them unto life 
eternal. O how strict and retired a life was that of the holy 
fathers who dwelt in the desert! what long and grievous 
temptations they did suffer! how often were they assaulted 
by the enemy! what frequent and fervid prayers did they 
offer unto God ! what strict fasts did they endure ! what fer- 
vent zeal and desire after spiritual profit did they manifest! 
how bravely did they fight that their vices might not gain the 
mastery! how entirely and steadfastly did they reach after 
God! By day they laboured, and at night they gave them- 
selves ofttimes unto prayer; yea, even when they were la- 
bouring they ceased not from mental prayer. 

3. They spent their whole time profitably; every hour 
seemed short for retirement with God; and through the 
great sweetness of contemplation, even the need of bodily 
refreshment was forgotten. They renounced all riches, 
dignities, honours, friends, kinsmen; they desired nothing 
from the world; they ate the bare necessaries of life; they 
were unwilling to minister to the body even in necessity. 
Thus were they poor in earthly things, but rich above 
measure in grace and virtue. Though poor to the outer eye, 
within they were filled with grace and heavenly benedictions. 

4. They were strangers to the world, but unto God they 
were as kinsmen and friends. They seemed unto themselves 
as of no reputation, and in the world's eyes contemptible; 
but in the sight of God they were precious and beloved. 
They stood fast in true humility, they lived in simple obedi- 
ence, they walked in love and patience ; and thus they waxed 
strong in spirit, and obtained great favour before God. To 
all religious men they were given as an example, and they 
ought more to provoke us unto good livings than the number 
of the lukewarm tempteth to carelessness of life. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 231 

5. O how great was the love of all religious persons at 
the beginning of this sacred institution ! O what devoutness 
of prayer ! what rivalry in holiness ! what strict discipline was 
observed ! what reverence and obedience under the rule of 
the master showed they in all things! The traces of them 
that remain until now testify that they were truly holy and 
perfect men, who fighting so bravely trod the world under- 
foot. Now a man is counted great if only he be not a trans- 
gressor, and if he can only endure with patience what he 
hath undertaken. 

6. O the coldness and negligence of our times, that we so 
quickly decline from the former love, and it is become a 
weariness to live, because of sloth and lukewarmness. May 
progress in holiness not wholly fall asleep in thee, who 
many times hast seen so many examples of devout men ! 

CHAPTER XIX 
Of the exercises of a religious man 

The life of a Christian ought to be adorned with all virtues, 
that he may be inwardly what he outwardly appeareth unto 
men. And verily it should be yet better within than without, 
for God is a discerner of our heart. Whom we must rever- 
ence with all our hearts wheresoever we are, and walk pure 
in His presence as do the angels. We ought daily to renew 
our vows, and to kindle our hearts to zeal, as if each day 
were the first day of our conversion, and to say, "Help me, 

God, in my good resolutions, and in Thy holy service, and 
grant that this day I may make a good beginning, for hitherto 

1 have done nothing!" 

2. According to our resolution so is the rate of our prog- 
ress, and much diligence is needful for him who would 
make good progress. For if he who resolveth bravely often- 
times falleth short, how shall it be with him who resolveth 
rarely or feebly? But manifold causes bring about abandon- 
ment of our resolution, yet a trivial omission of holy exer- 
cises can hardly be made without some loss to us. The 
resolution of the righteous dependeth more upon the grace 
of God than upon their own wisdom ; for in Him they always 



232 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

put their trust, whatsoever they take in hand. For man pro- 
poseth, but God disposeth; and the way of a man is not in 
himself} 

3. If a holy exercise be sometimes omitted for the sake 
of some act of piety, or of some brotherly kindness, it can 
easily be taken up afterwards ; but if it be neglected through 
distaste or slothfulness, then is it sinful, and the mischief 
will be felt. Strive as earnestly as we may, we shall still 
fall short in many things. Always should some distinct reso- 
lution be made by us ; and, most of all, we must strive against 
those sins which most easily beset us. Both our outer and 
inner life should be straitly examined and ruled by us, be- 
cause both have to do with our progress. 

4. If thou canst not be always examining thyself, thou 
canst at certain seasons, and at least twice in the day, at 
evening and at morning. In the morning make thy resolves, 
and in the evening inquire into thy life, how thou hast sped 
to-day in word, deed, and thought; for in these ways thou 
hast often perchance offended God and thy neighbour. Gird 
up thy loins like a man against the assaults of the devil ; 
bridle thine appetite, and thou wilt soon be able to bridle 
every inclination of the flesh. Be thou never without some- 
thing to do ; be reading, or writing, or praying, or meditating, 
or doing something that is useful to the community. Bodily 
exercises, however, must be undertaken with discretion, nor 
are they to be used by all alike. 

5. The duties which are not common to all must not be 
done openly, but are safest carried on in secret. But take 
heed that thou be not careless in the common duties, and 
more devout in the secret; but faithfully and honestly dis- 
charge the duties and commands which lie upon thee, then 
afterwards, if thou hast still leisure, give thyself to thyself as 
thy devotion leadeth thee. All cannot have one exercise, but 
one suiteth better to this man and another to that. Even 
for the diversity of season different exercises are needed, 
some suit better for feasts, some for fasts. We need one 
kind in time of temptations and others in time of peace and 
quietness. Some are suitable to our times of sadness, and 
others when we are joyful in the Lord. 

* Jeremiah x. 23. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 233 

6. When we draw near the time of the great feasts, good 
exercises should be renewed, and the prayers of holy men 
more fervently besought. We ought to make our resolutions 
from one Feast to another, as if each were the period of our 
departure from this world, and of entering into the eternal 
feast. So ought we to prepare ourselves earnestly at solemn 
seasons, and the more solemnly to live, and to keep straightest 
watch upon each holy observance, as though we were soon 
to receive the reward of our labours at the hand of God. 

7. And if this be deferred, let us believe ourselves to be 
as yet ill-prepared, and unworthy as yet of the glory which 
shall be revealed in us at the appointed season ; and let 
us study to prepare ourselves the better for our end. Blessed 
is that servant, as the Evangelist Luke hath it, whom, zvhen 
the Lord cometh He shall find watching. Verily I say unto 
you He will make him ruler over all that He hath!' 



CHAPTER XX 
Of the love of solitude and silence 

Seek a suitable time for thy meditation, and think frequently 
of the mercies of God to thee. Leave curious questions. 
Study such matters as bring thee sorrow for sin rather than 
amusement. If thou withdraw thyself from trifling con- 
versation and idle goings about, as well as from novelties and 
gossip, thou shalt find thy time sufficient and apt for good 
meditation. The greatest saints used to avoid as far as 
they could the company of men, and chose to live in secret 
with God. 

2. One hath said, " As oft as I have gone among men, 
so oft have I returned less a man." This is what we often 
experience when we have been long time in conversation. 
For it is easier to be altogether silent than it is not to exceed 
in word. It is easier to remain hidden at home than to 
keep sufficient guard upon thyself out of doors. He, there- 
fore, that seeketh to reach that which is hidden and spiritual, 
must go with Jesus " apart from the multitude." No man 
safely goeth abroad who loveth not to rest at home. No 

3 Luke xii. 43, 44. 



234 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

man safely talketh but he who loveth to hold his peace. No 
man safely ruleth but he who loveth to be subject. No man 
safely commandeth but he who loveth to obey. 

3. No man safely rejoiceth but he who hath the testimony 
of a good conscience within himself. The boldness of the 
Saints was always full of the fear of God. Nor were they 
the less earnest and humble in themselves, because they shone 
forth with great virtues and grace. But the boldness of 
wicked men springeth from pride and presumption, and at 
the last turneth to their own confusion. Never promise thy- 
self security in this life, howsoever good a monk or devout 
a solitary thou seemest. 

4. Often those who stand highest in the esteem of men, 
fall the more grievously because of their over great confi- 
dence. Wherefore it is very profitable unto many that they 
should not be without inward temptation, but should be fre- 
quently assaulted, lest they be over confident, lest they be 
indeed lifted up into pride, or else lean too freely upon the 
consolations of the world. O how good a conscience should 
that man keep, who never sought a joy that passeth away, 
who never became entangled with the world ! O how great 
peace and quiet should he possess, who would cast off all 
vain care, and think only of healthful and divine things, and 
build his whole hope upon God ! 

5. No man is worthy of heavenly consolation but he who 
hath diligently exercised himself in holy compunction. If 
thou wilt feel compunction within thy heart, enter into thy 
chamber and shut out the tumults of the world, as it is 
written. Commune with your own heart in your own chamber 
and be still} In retirement thou shalt find what often thou 
wilt lose abroad. Retirement, if thou continue therein, 
groweth sweet, but if thou keep not in it, begetteth weariness. 
If in the beginning of thy conversation thou dwell in it and 
keep it well, it shall afterwards be to thee a dear friend, and 
a most pleasant solace. 

6. In silence and quiet the devout soul goeth forward and 
learneth the hidden things of the Scriptures. Therein findeth 
she a fountain of tears, wherein to wash and cleanse herself 
each night, that she may grow the more dear to her Maker 

I Psalm iv. 4. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 235 

as she dwelleth the further from all worldly distraction. 
To him who withdraweth himself from his acquaintance and 
friends God with His holy angels will draw nigh. It is better 
to be unknown and take heed to oneself than to neglect one- 
self and work wonders. It is praiseworthy for a religious 
man to go seldom abroad, to fly from being seen, to have 
no desire to see men. 

7. Why wouldest thou see what thou mayest not have? 
The world passeth away and the lust thereof. The desires 
of sensuality draw thee abroad, but when an hour is past, 
what dost thou bring home, but a weight upon thy conscience 
and distraction of heart? A merry going forth bringeth 
often a sorrowful return, and a merry evening maketh a 
sad morning? So doth all carnal joy begin pleasantly, but 
in the end it gnaweth away and destroyeth. What canst 
thou see abroad which thou seest not at home? Behold 
the heaven and the earth and the elements, for out of these 
are all things made. 

8. What canst thou see anywhere which can continue long 
under the sun? Thou believest perchance that thou shalt 
be satisfied, but thou wilt never be able to attain unto this. 
If thou shouldest see all things before thee at once, what 
would it be but a vain vision? Lift up thine eyes to God 
on high, and pray that thy sins and negligences may be for- 
given. Leave vain things to vain men, and mind thou the 
things which God hath commanded thee. Shut thy door 
upon thee, and call unto thyself Jesus thy beloved. Remain 
with Him in thy chamber, for thou shalt not elsewhere find 
so great peace. If thou hadst not gone forth nor listened 
to vain talk, thou hadst better kept thyself in good peace. 
But because it sometimes delighteth thee to hear new things, 
thou must therefore suffer trouble of heart. 



CHAPTER XXI 
Of compunction of heart 

If thou wilt make any progress keep thyself in the fear of 
God, and long not to be too free, but restrain all thy senses 
under discipline and give not thyself up to senseless mirth. 



236 f THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

Give thyself to compunction of heart and thou shalt find 
devotion. Compunction openeth the way for many good 
things, which dissoluteness is wont quickly to lose. It is 
wonderful that any man can ever rejoice heartily in this 
life who considereth and weigheth his banishment, and the 
manifold dangers which beset his soul. 

2. Through lightness of heart and neglect of our short- 
comings we feel not the sorrows of our soul, but often vainly 
laugh when we have good cause to weep. There is no true 
liberty nor real joy, save in the fear of God with a good 
conscience. Happy is he who can cast away every cause of 
distraction and bring himself to the one purpose of holy com- 
punction. Happy is he who putteth away from him what- 
soever may stain or burden his conscience. Strive manfully ; 
custom is overcome by custom. H thou knowest how to let 
men alone, they will gladly let thee alone to do thine own 
works. 

3. Busy not thyself with the affairs of others, nor entangle 
thyself with the business of great men. Keep always thine 
eye upon thyself first of all, and give advice to thyself 
specially before all thy dearest friends. If thou hast not the 
favour of men, be not thereby cast down, but let thy concern 
be that thou boldest not thyself so well and circumspectly, 
as becometh a servant of God and a devout monk. It is 
often better and safer for a man not to have many comforts 
in this life, especially those which concern the flesh. But 
that we lack divine comforts or feel them rarely is to our 
own blame, because we seek not compunction of heart, nor 
utterly cast away those comforts which are vain and worldly. 

4. Know thyself to be unworthy of divine consolation, and 
worthy rather of much tribulation. When a man hath per- 
fect compunction, then all the world is burdensome and 
bitter to him. A good man will find sufficient cause for 
mourning and weeping; for whether he considereth himself, 
or pondereth concerning his neighbour, he knoweth that no 
man liveth here without tribulation, and the more thoroughly 
he considereth himself, the more thoroughly he grieveth. 
Grounds for just grief and inward compunction there are in 
our sins and vices, wherein we lie so entangled that we are 
but seldom able to contemplate heavenly things. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 237 

5. If thou thoughtest upon thy death more often than 
how long thy life should be, thou wouldest doubtless strive 
more earnestly to improve. And if thou didst seriously con- 
sider the future pains of hell, I believe thou wouldest will- 
ingly endure toil or pain and fear not discipline. But be- 
cause these things reach not the heart, and we still love 
pleasant things, therefore we remain cold and miserably 
indifferent. 

6. Oftentimes it is from poverty of spirit that the wretched 
body is so easily led to complain. Pray therefore humbly 
unto the Lord that He will give thee the spirit of compunc- 
tion and say in the language of the prophet, Feed me, O 
Lord, with bread of tears, and give me plenteousness of tears 
to drinks 

CHAPTER XXn 
On the contemplation of human misery 

Thou art miserable wheresoever thou art, and whitherso- 
ever thou turnest, unless thou turn thee to God. Why art 
thou disquieted because it happeneth not to thee according 
to thy wishes and desires? Who is he that hath everything 
according to his will? Neither I, nor thou, nor any man 
upon the earth. There is no man in the world free from 
trouble or anguish, though he were King or Pope. Who 
is he who hath the happiest lot? Even he who is strong 
to suffer somewhat for God. 

2. There are many foolish and unstable men who say, 
" See what a prosperous life that man hath, how rich and 
how great he is, how powerful, how exalted." But lift up 
thine eyes to the good things of heaven, and thou shalt 
see that all these worldly things are nothing, they are utterly 
uncertain, yea, they are wearisome, because they are never 
possessed without care and fear. The happiness of man lieth 
not in the abundance of temporal things but a moderate 
portion sufficeth him. Our life upon earth is verily wretched- 
ness. The more a man desireth to be spiritual, the more 
bitter doth the present life become to him; because he the 
better understandeth and seeth the defects of human cor- 

^ Psalm Ixxv. 5. 



238 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

ruption. For to eat, to drink, to watch, to sleep, to rest, to 
labour, and to be subject to the other necessities of nature, 
is truly a great wretchedness and affliction to a devout man, 
who would fain be released and free from all sin. 

3. For the inner man is heavily burdened with the neces- 
sities of the body in this world. Wherefore the prophet 
devoutly prayeth to be freed from them, saying. Deliver me 
from my necessities, O Lord^ But woe to those who know 
not their own misery, and yet greater woe to those who 
love this miserable and corruptible life. For to such 
a degree do some cling to it (even though by labouring or 
begging they scarce procure what is necessary for sub- 
sistence) that if they might live here always, they would 
care nothing for the Kingdom of God. 

4. Oh foolish and faithless of heart, who lie buried so 
deep in worldly things, that they relish nothing save the 
things of the flesh! Miserable ones! they will too sadly 
find out at the last, how vile and worthless was that which 
they loved. The saints of God and all loyal friends of 
Christ held as nothing the things which pleased the flesh, or 
those which flourished in this life, but their whole hope 
and afifection aspired to the things which are above. Their 
whole desire was borne upwards to everlasting and invisible 
things, lest they should be drawn downwards by the love of 
things visible. 

5. Lose not, brother, thy loyal desire of progress to things 
spiritual. There is yet time, the hovir is not past. Why 
wilt thou put oflf thy resolution? Arise, begin this very 
moment, and say, " Now is the time to do : now is the 
time to fight, now is the proper time for amendment." When 
thou art ill at ease and troubled, then is the time when thou 
art nearest unto blessing. Thou must go through fire and 
water that God wtoy bring thee into a wealthy place. Un- 
less thou put force upon thyself, thou wilt not conquer thy 
faults. So long as we carry about with us this frail body, 
we cannot be without sin, we cannot live without weariness 
and trouble. Gladly would we have rest from all misery; 
but because through sin we have lost innocence, we have 
lost also the true happiness. Therefore must we be patient, 

^ Psalm XXV. 17. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 233 

and wait for the mercy of God, until this tyranny be over- 
past, and this mortality be swallowed up of life. 

6. O how great is the frailty of man, which is ever prone 
to evil ! To-day thou confessest thy sins, and to-morrow 
thou committest again the sins thou didst confess. Now dost 
thou resolve to avoid a fault, and within an hour thou be- 
havest thyself as if thou hadst never resolved at all. Good 
cause have we therefore to humble ourselves, and never to 
think highly of ourselves, seeing that we are so frail and un- 
stable. And quickly may that be lost by our negligence, 
which by much labour was hardly attained through grace. 

7. What shall become of us at the end, if at the beginning 
we are lukewarm and idle? Woe unto us, if we choose to 
rest, as though it were a time of peace and security, while 
as yet no sign appeareth in our life of true holiness. 
Rather had we need that we might begin yet afresh, like good 
novices, to be instructed unto good living, if haply there 
might be hope of some future amendment and greater 
spiritual increase. 

CHAPTER XXIII 
Of meditation upon death 

Very quickly will there be an end of thee here; take heed 
therefore how it will be with thee in another world. To- 
day man is, and to-morrow he will be seen no more. And 
being removed out of sight, quickly also he is out of mind. O 
the dulness and hardness of man's heart, which thinketh only 
of the present, and looketh not forward to the future. Thou 
oughtest in every deed and thought so to order thyself, as if 
thou wert to die this day. If thou hadst a good conscience 
thou wouldst not greatly fear death. It were better for 
thee to watch against sin, than to fly from death. If to-day 
thou art not ready, how shalt thou be ready to-morrow ? To- 
morrow is an uncertain day; and how knowest thou that 
thou shalt have a to-morrow? 

2. What doth it profit to live long, when we amend so 
little ? Ah ! long life doth not always amend, but often the 
more increaseth guilt. Oh that we might spend a single day 
in this world as it ought to be spent ! Many there are who 



240 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

reckon the years since they were converted, and yet often- 
times how little is the fruit thereof. If it is a fearful thing 
to die, it may be perchance a yet more fearful thing to live 
long. Happy is the man who hath the hour of his death 
always before his eyes, and daily prepareth himself to die. 
If thou hast ever seen one die, consider that thou also shalt 
pass away by the same road. 

3. When it is morning reflect that it may be thou shalt 
not see the evening, and at eventide dare not to boast thyself 
of the morrow. Always be thou prepared, and so live that 
death may never find thee unprepared. Many die suddenly 
and unexpectedly. For at such an hour as ye think not, the Son 
of Man cometh} When that last hour shall come, thou wilt 
begin to think very differently of thy whole life past, and wilt 
mourn bitterly that thou hast been so negligent and slothful. 

4. Happy and wise is he who now striveth to be such in 
life as he would fain be found in death ! For a perfect con- 
tempt of the world, a fervent desire to excel in virtue, the 
love of discipline, the painfulness of repentance, readiness 
to obey, denial of self, submission to any adversity for love 
of Christ; these are the things which shall give great con- 
fidence of a happy death. Whilst thou art in health thou 
hast many opportunities of good works; but when thou art 
in sickness I know not how much thou wilt be able to do. 
Few are made better by infirmity : even as they who wander 
much abroad seldom become holy. 

5. Trust not thy friends and kinsfolk, nor put off the 
work of thy salvation to the future, for men will forget thee 
sooner than thou thinkest. It is better for thee now to pro- 
vide in time, and to send some good before thee, than to 
trust to the help of others. If thou art not anxious for 
thyself now, who, thinkest thou, will be anxious for thee 
afterwards? Now the time is most precious. Notv is the 
accepted time, now is the day of salvation. But, alas ! that 
thou spendest not well this time, wherein thou mightest lay 
up treasure which should profit thee everlastingly. The 
hour will come when thou shalt desire one day, yea, one 
hour, for amendment of life, and I know not whether thou 
shalt obtain. 

^ Matthew xxiv. 44^ 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 241 

6. Oh, dearly beloved, from what danger thou mightest 
free thyself, from what great fear, if only thou wouldst 
always live in fear, and in expectation of death ! Strive now 
to Hve in such wise that in the hour of death thou mayest 
rather rejoice than fear. Learn now to die to the world, 
so shalt thou begin to live with Christ. Learn now to con- 
temn all earthly things, and then mayest thou freely go unto 
Christ. Keep under thy body by penitence, and then shalt 
thou be able to have a sure confidence. 

7. Ah, foolish one ! why thinkest thou that thou shalt live 
long, when thou art not sure of a single day? How many 
have been deceived, and suddenly have been snatched away 
from the body ! How many times hast thou heard how one 
was slain by the sword, another was drowned, another fall- 
ing from on high broke his neck, another died at the table, 
another whilst at play ! One died by fire, another by the 
sword, another by the pestilence, another by the robber. 
Thus cometh death to all, and the life of men swiftly passeth 
away like a shadow. 

8. Who will remember thee after thy death? And who 
will entreat for thee? Work, work now, oh dearly beloved, 
work all that thou canst. For thou knowest not when thou 
shalt die, nor what shall happen unto thee after death. 
While thou hast time, lay up for thyself undying riches. 
Think of nought but of thy salvation ; care only for the things 
of God. Make to thyself friends, by venerating the saints of 
God and walking in their steps, that when thou failest, thou 
mayest he received into everlasting habitations^ 

9. Keep thyself as a stranger and a pilgrim upon the earth, 
to whom the things of the world appertain not. Keep thine 
heart free, and lifted up towards God, for here have we no 
continuing city? To Him direct thy daily prayers with cry- 
ing and tears, that thy spirit may be found worthy to pass 
happily after death unto its Lord. Amen. 

' Luke xvi. 9. * Hebrews xiii. 14. 



242 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

CHAPTER XXIV 
Of the judgment and punishment of the wicked 

In all that thou doest, remember the end, and how thou 
wilt stand before a strict judge, from whom nothing is hid, 
who is not bribed with gifts, nor accepteth excuses, but will 
judge righteous judgment. O most miserable and foolish 
sinner, who art sometimes in fear of the countenance of an 
angry man, what wilt thou answer to God, who knoweth all 
thy misdeeds? Why dost thou not provide for thyself 
against the day of judgment, when no man shall be able to 
be excused or defended by means of another, but each one 
shall bear his burden himself alone? Now doth thy labour 
bring forth fruit, now is thy weeping acceptable, thy groaning 
heard, thy sorrow well pleasing to God, and cleansing to 
thy soul. 

2. Even here on earth the patient man findeth great oc- 
casion of purifying his soul. When suffering injuries he 
grieveth more for the other's malice than for his own wrong; 
when he prayeth heartily for those that despitefully use him, 
and forgiveth them from his heart; when he is not slow to 
ask pardon from others; when he is swifter to pity than to 
anger ; when he frequently denieth himself and striveth alto- 
gether to subdue the flesh to the spirit. Better is it now to 
purify the soul from sin, than to cling to sins from which we 
must be purged hereafter. Truly we deceive ourselves by 
the inordinate love which we bear towards the flesh. 

3. What is it which that fire shall devour, save thy sins? 
The more thou sparest thyself and foUowest the flesh, the 
more heavy shall thy punishment be, and the more fuel art 
thou heaping up for the burning. For wherein a man hath 
sinned, therein shall he be the more heavily punished. There 
shall the slothful be pricked forward with burning goads, 
and the gluttons be tormented with intolerable hunger and 
thirst. There shall the luxurious and the lovers of pleasure 
be plunged into burning pitch and stinking brimstone, and 
the envious shall howl like mad dogs for very grief. 

4. No sin will there be which shall not be visited with! 
its own proper punishment. The proud shall be filled with 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 243 

utter confusion, and the covetous shall be pinched with miser- 
able poverty. An hour's pain there shall be more grievous 
than a hundred years here of the bitterest penitence. No 
quiet shall be there, no comfort for the lost, though here 
sometimes there is respite from pain, and enjoyment of the 
solace of friends. Be thou anxious now and sorrowful for 
thy sins, that in the day of judgment thou may est have bold- 
ness with the blessed. For then shall the righteous man 
stand in great boldness before the face of such as have 
aMicted him and made no account of his labours.'' Then 
shall he stand up to judge, he who now submitteth himself 
in humility to the judgments of men. Then shall the poor 
and humble man have great confidence, while the proud is 
taken with fear on every side. 

5. Then shall it be seen that he was the wise man in this 
world who learned to be a fool and despised for Christ. 
Then shall all tribulation patiently borne delight us, while the 
mouth of the ungodly shall be stopped. Then shall every 
godly man rejoice, and every profane man shall mourn. 
Then the afflicted flesh shall more rejoice than if it had been 
alway nourished in delights. Then the humble garment shall 
put on beauty, and the precious robe shall hide itself as vile. 
Then the little poor cottage shall be more commended "than 
the gilded palace. Then enduring patience shall have more 
might than all the power of the world. Then simple obedi- 
ence shall be more highly exalted than all worldly wisdom. 

6. Then a pure and good conscience shall more rejoice 
than learned philosophy. Then contempt of riches shall 
have more weight than all the treasure of the children of 
this world. Then shalt thou find more comfort in having 
prayed devoutly than in having fared sumptuously. Then 
thou wilt rather rejoice in having kept silence than in having 
made long speech. Then holy deeds shall be far stronger 
than many fine words. Then a strict life and sincere peni- 
tence shall bring deeper pleasure than all earthly delight. 
Learn now to suffer a little, that then thou mayest be enabled 
to escape heavier sufferings. Prove first here, what thou 
art able to endure hereafter. If now thou art able to bear 
so little, how wilt thou be able to endure eternal torments? 

^Wisd. V. I. 



244 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

If now a little suffering maketh thee so impatient, what shall 
hell-fire do then? Behold of a surety thou art not able to 
have two Paradises, to take thy fill or delight here in this 
world, and to reign with Christ hereafter. 

7. If even unto this day thou hadst ever lived in honours 
and pleasures, what would the whole profit thee if now death 
came to thee in an instant? All therefore is vanity, save 
to love God and to serve Him only. For he who loveth God 
with all his heart feareth not death, nor punishment, nor 
judgment, nor hell, because perfect love giveth sure access 
to God. But he who still delighteth in sin, no marvel if he 
is afraid of death and judgment. Nevertheless it is a good 
thing, if love as yet cannot restrain thee from evil, that at 
least the fear of hell should hold thee back. But he who 
putteth aside the fear of God cannot long continue in good, 
but shall quickly fall into the snares of the devil. 

CHAPTER XXV 
Of the zealous amendment of our whole life 

Be thou watchful and diligent in God's service, and bethink 
thee often why thou hast renounced the world. Was it 
not that thou mightest live to God and become a spiritual 
man? Be zealous, therefore, for thy spiritual profit, for 
thou shalt receive shortly the reward of thy labours, and 
neither fear nor sorrow shall come any more into thy 
borders. Now shalt thou labour a little, and thou shalt find 
great rest, yea everlasting joy. If thou shalt remain faith- 
ful and zealous in labour, doubt not that God shall be faithful 
and bountiful in rewarding thee. It is thy duty to have a 
good hope that thou wilt attain the victory, but thou must not 
fall into security lest thou become slothful or lifted up. 

2. A certain man being in anxiety of mind, continually 
tossed about between hope and fear, and being on a certain 
day overwhelmed with grief, cast himself down in prayer 
before the altar in a church, and meditated within himself, 
saying, "Oh ! if I but knew that I should still persevere," 
and presently heard within him a voice from God, "And 
if thou didst know it, what wouldst thou do ? Do now what 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 245 

thou wouldst do therij and thou shalt be very secure." And 
straightway being comforted and strengthened, he committed 
himself to the will of God and the perturbation of spirit 
ceased, neither had he a mind any more to search curiously to 
know what should befall him hereafter, but studied rather to 
inquire what was the good and acceptable will of God, for 
the beginning and perfecting of every good work. 

3. Hope in the Lord and be doing good, saith the Prophet ; 
dwell in the land and thou shalt he fed^ with its riches. 
One thing there is which holdeth back many from progress 
and fervent amendment, even the dread of difficulty, or the 
labour of the conflict. Nevertheless they advance above 
all others in virtue who strive manfully to conquer those 
things which are most grievous and contrary to them, for 
there a man profiteth most and meriteth greater grace where 
he most overcometh himself and mortifieth himself in spirit. 

4. But all men have not the same passions to conquer and 
to mortify, yet he who is diligent shall attain more profit, 
although he have stronger passions, than another who is 
more temperate of disposition, but is withal less fervent in 
the pursuit of virtue. Two things specially avail unto im- 
provement in holiness, namely firmness to withdraw ourselves 
from the sin to which by nature we are most inclined, and 
earnest zeal for that good in which we are most lacking. 
And strive also very earnestly to g^ard against and subdue 
those faults which displease thee most frequently in others. 

5. Gather some profit to thy soul wherever thou art, and 
wherever thou seest or hearest good examples, stir thyself 
to follow them, but where thou seest anything which is 
blameworthy, take heed that thou do not the same; or if at 
any time thou hast done it, strive quickly to amend thyself. 
As thine eye observeth others, so again are the eyes of 
others upon thee. How sweet and pleasant is it to see 
zealous and godly brethren temperate and of good discipline; 
and how sad is it and grievous to see them walking disor- 
derly, not practising the duties to which they are called. How 
hurtful a thing it is to neglect the purpose of their calling, 
and turn their inclinations to things which are none of their 
business. 

^ Psalm xxxvii. 3. 



246 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

6. Be mindful of the duties which thou hast undertaken, 
and set always before thee the remembrance of the Crucified. 
Truly oughtest thou to be ashamed as thou lookest upon the 
life of Jesus Christ, because thou hast not yet endeavoured 
to conform thyself more unto Him, though thou hast been 
a long time in the way of God. A religious man who exer- 
cises himself seriously and devoutly in the most holy life 
and passion of our Lord shall find there abundantly all things 
that are profitable and necessary for him, neither is there 
need that he shall seek anything better beyond Jesus. Oh! 
if Jesus crucified would come into our hearts, how quickly, 
and completely should we have learned all that we need to 
know! 

7. He who is earnest receiveth and beareth well all things 
that are laid upon him. He who is careless and lukewarm 
hath trouble upon trouble, and suffereth anguish upon every 
side, because he is without inward consolation, and is for- 
bidden to seek that which is outward. He who is living 
without discipline is exposed to grievous ruin. He who 
seeketh easier and lighter discipline shall always be in dis- 
tress, because one thing or another will give him displeasure. 

8. O ! if no other duty lay upon us but to praise the Lord 
our God with our whole heart and voice ! Oh ! if thou never 
hadst need to eat or drink, or sleep, but wert always able 
to praise God, and to give thyself to spiritual exercises alone ; 
then shouldst thou be far happier than now, when for so 
many necessities thou must serve the flesh. O ! that these 
necessities were not, but only the spiritual refreshments of 
the soul, which alas we taste too seldom. 

9. When a man hath come to this, that he seeketh comfort 
from no created thing, then doth he perfectly begin to enjoy 
God, then also will he be well contented with whatsoever shall 
happen unto him. Then will "he neither rejoice for much nor 
be sorrowful for little, but he committeth himself altogether 
and with full trust unto God, who is all in all to him, to 
whom nothing perisheth nor dieth, but all things live to Him 
and obey His every word without delay. 

ID. Remember always thine end, and how the time which 
is lost returneth not. Without care and diligence thou shalt 
never get virtue. If thou beginnest to grow cold, it shall 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 247 

begin to go ill with thee, but if thou givest thyself unto zeal 
thou shalt find much peace, and shalt find thy labour the 
lighter because of the grace of God and the love of virtue. 
A zealous and diligent man is ready for all things. It is 
greater labour to resist sins and passions than to toil in 
bodily labours. He who shunneth not small faults falleth 
little by little into greater. At eventide thou shalt always 
be glad if thou spend the day profitably. Watch over thy- 
self, stir thyself up, admonish thyself, and howsoever it be 
with others, neglect not thyself. The more violence thou 
dost unto thyself, the more thou shall profit. Amen. 



THE SECOND BOOK 

ADMONITIONS CONCERNING THE 
INNER LIFE 

CHAPTER I 
Of the inward life 

ft iHE kingdom of God is ivithin you,^ saith the Lord. 
/ Turn thee with all thine heart to the Lord and forsake 
this miserable world, and thou shalt find rest unto thy 
soul. Learn to despise outward things and to give thyself 
to things inward, and thou shalt see the kingdom of God 
come within thee. For the kingdom of God is peace and joy 
in the Holy Ghost, and it is not given to the wicked. Christ 
will come to thee, and show thee His consolation, if thou 
prepare a worthy mansion for Him within thee. All His 
glory and beauty is from within, and there it pleaseth Him 
to dwell. He often visiteth the inward man and holdeth with 
him sweet discourse, giving him soothing consolation, much 
peace, friendship exceeding wonderful. 

2. Go to, faithful soul, prepare thy heart for this bride- 
groom that he may vouchsafe to come to thee and dwell with- 
in thee, for so He saith, if any man loveth me he will keep 
my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come 
unto him and make our abode with him.' Give, therefore, 
place to Christ and refuse entrance to all others. When 
thou hast Christ, thou art rich, and hast sufficient. He shall 
be thy provider and faithful wratchman in all things, so that 
thou hast no need to trust in men, for men soon change 
and swiftly pass away, but Christ remaineth for ever and 
standeth by us firmly even to the end. 

3. There is no great trust to be placed in a frail and mortal 

*Lukc xvii. 21. *John xiv. 23. 

248 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 249 

man, even though he be useful and dear to us, neither should 
much sorrow arise within us if sometimes he oppose and 
contradict us. They who are on thy side to-day, may to- 
morrow be against thee, and often are they turned round 
like the wind. Put thy whole trust in God and let Him be 
thy fear and thy love. He will answer for thee Himself, and 
will do for thee what is best. Here hast thou no continuing 
city^ and wheresoever thou art, thou art a stranger and a 
pilgrim, and thou shalt never have rest unless thou art 
closely united to Christ within thee. 

4. Why dost thou cast thine eyes hither and thither, since 
this is not the place of thy rest? In heaven ought thy 
habitation to be, and all earthly things should be looked upon 
as it were in the passing by. All things pass away and thou 
equally with them. Look that thou cleave not to them 
lest thou be taken with them and perish. Let thy contem- 
plation be on the Most High, and let thy supplication be 
directed unto Christ without ceasing. If thou canst not 
behold high and heavenly things, rest thou in the passion 
of Christ and dwell willingly in His scared wounds. For 
if thou devoutly fly to the wounds of Jesus, and the precious 
marks of the nails and the spear, thou shalt find great comfort 
in tribulation, nor will the slights of men trouble thee much, 
and thou wilt easily bear their unkind words. 

5. Christ also, when He was in the world, was despised 
and rejected of men, and in His greatest necessity was left 
by His acquaintance and friends to bear these reproaches. 
Christ was willing to suffer and be despised, and darest thou 
complain of any? Christ had adversaries and gainsayers, 
and dost thou wish to have all men thy friends and bene- 
factors? Whence shall thy patience attain her crown if no 
adversity befall thee? If thou art unwilling to suffer any 
adversity, how shalt thou be the friend of Christ? Sustain 
thyself with Christ and for Christ if thou wilt reign with 
Christ. 

6. If thou hadst once entered into the mind of Jesus, and 
hadst tasted yea even a little of his tender love, then wouldst 
thou care nought for thine own convenience or inconvenience, 
but wouldst rather rejoice at trouble brought upon thee, 

■Hebrews xiii. 14. 



250 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

because the love of Jesus maketh a man to despise himself. 
He who loveth Jesus, and is inwardly true and free from 
inordinate affections, is able to turn himself readily unto 
God, and to rise above himself in spirit, and to enjoy fruit- 
ful peace. 

7. He who knoweth things as they are and not as they are 
said or seem to be, he truly is wise, and is taught of God 
more than of men. He who knoweth how to walk from with- 
in, and to set little value upon outward things, requireth not 
places nor waiteth for seasons, for holding his intercourse 
with God. The inward man quickly recollecteth himself, 
because he is never entirely given up to outward things. 
No outward labour and no necessary occupations stand in 
his way, but as events fall out, so doth he fit himself to them. 
He who is rightly disposed and ordered within careth not 
for the strange and perverse conduct of men. A man is 
hindered and distracted in so far as he is moved by outward 
things. 

8. If it were well with thee, and thou wert purified from 
evil, all things would work together for thy good and profit- 
ing. For this cause do many things displease thee and 
often trouble thee, that thou art not yet perfectly dead to thy- 
self nor separated from all earthly things. Nothing so de- 
fileth and entangleth the heart of man as impure love 
towards created things. If thou rejectest outward comfort 
thou wilt be able to contemplate heavenly things and fre- 
quently to be joyful inwardly. 



CHAPTER II 
Of lowly submission 

Make no great account who is for thee or against thee, but 
mind only the present duty and take care that God be with 
thee in whatsoever thou doest. Have a good conscience 
and God will defend thee, for he whom God will help no 
man's perverseness shall be able to hurt. If thou knowest 
how to hold thy peace and to suffer, without doubt thou 
shalt see the help of the Lord. He knoweth the time and 
the way to deliver thee, therefore must thou resign thyself 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 251 

to Him. To God it belongeth to help and to deliver from 
all confusion. Oftentimes it is very profitable for keeping us 
in greater humility, that others know and rebuke our faults. 
2. When a man humbleth himself for his defects, Le then 
easily pacifieth others and quickly satisfieth those that are 
angered against him. God protecteth and delivereth the 
humble man, He loveth and comforteth the humble man, 
to the humble man He inclineth Himself, on the humble He 
bestoweth great grace, and when he is cast down He raiseth 
him to glory: to the humble He revealeth His secrets, and 
sweetly draweth and inviteth him to Himself. The humble 
man having received reproach, is yet in sufficient peace, 
because he resteth on God and not on the world. Reckon not 
thyself to have profited in anywise unless thou feel thyself 
to be inferior to all. 



CHAPTER HI 

Of the good, peaceable man 

First keep thyself in peace, and then shalt thou be able to 
be a peacemaker towards others. A peaceable man doth 
more good than a well-learned. A passionate man turneth 
even good into evil and easily believeth evil; a good, peace- 
able man converteth all things into good. He who dwelleth 
in peace is suspicious of none, but he who is discontented 
and restless is tossed with many suspicions, and is neither 
quiet himself nor suffereth others to be quiet. He often 
saith what he ought not to say, and omitteth what it were 
more expedient for him to do. He considereth to what duties 
others are bound, and neglecteth those to which he is bound 
himself. Therefore be zealous first over thyself, and then 
mayest thou righteously be zealous concerning thy neighbour. 
2. Thou knowest well how to excuse and to colour thine 
own deeds, but thou wilt not accept the excuses of others. 
It would be more just to accuse thyself and excuse thy 
brother. If thou wilt that others bear with thee, bear thou 
with others. Behold how far thou art as yet from the true 
charity and humility which knows not how to be angry or 
indignant against any save self alone. It is no great thing 



252 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

to mingle with the good and the meek, for this is naturally 
pleasing to all, and every one of us willingly enjoyeth peace 
and liketh best those who think with us: but to be able to 
live peaceably with the hard and perverse, or with the dis- 
orderly, or those who oppose us, this is a great grace and 
a thing much to be commended and most worthy of a man. 

3. There are who keep themselves in peace and keep peace 
also with others, and there are who neither have peace nor 
suffer others to have peace ; they are troublesome to others, but 
always more troublesome to themselves. And there are who 
hold themselves in peace, and study to bring others unto 
peace; nevertheless, all our peace in this sad life lieth in 
humble suffering rather than in not feeling adversities. He 
who best knoweth how to suffer shall possess the most peace ; 
that man is conqueror of himself and lord of the world, the 
friend of Christ, and the inheritor of heaven. 



CHAPTER IV 
Of a pure mind and simple intention 

By two wings is man lifted above earthly things, even by 
simplicity and purity. Simplicity ought to be in the intention, 
purity in the affection. Simplicity reacheth towards God, 
purity apprehendeth Him and tasteth Him. No good action 
will be distasteful to thee if thou be free within from inordi- 
nate affection. If thou reachest after and seekest, nothing 
but the will of God and the benefit of thy neighbour, thou 
wilt entirely enjoy inward liberty. If thine heart were 
right, then should every creature be a mirror of life and a 
book of holy doctrine. There is no creature so small and 
vile but that it showeth us the goodness of God. 

2. If thou wert good and pure within, then wouldst thou 
look upon all things without hurt and understand them 
aright. A pure heart seeth the very depths of heaven and 
hell. Such as each one is inwardly, so judgeth he outwardly. 
If there is any joy in the world surely the man of pure heart 
possesseth it, and if there is anywhere tribulation and 
anguish, the evil conscience knoweth it best. As iron cast 
into the fire loseth rust and is made altogether glowing, so 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 253 

the man who turneth himself altogether unto God is freed 
from slothfulness and changed into a new man. 

3. When a man beginneth to grow lukewarm, then he 
feareth a little labour, and willingly accepteth outward con- 
solation; but when he beginneth perfectly to conquer him- 
self and to walk manfully in the way of God, then he 
counteth as nothing those things which aforetime seemed to 
be so grievous unto him. 



CHAPTER V 
Of self-esteem 

We cannot place too little confidence in ourselves, because 
grace and understanding are often lacking to us. Little 
light is there within us, and what we have we quickly lose 
by negligence. Oftentimes we perceive not how great is our 
inward blindness. We often do ill and excuse it worse. 
Sometimes we are moved by passion and count it zeal; we 
blame little faults in others and pass over great faults in 
ourselves. Quickly enough we feel and reckon up what we 
bear at the hands of others, but we reflect not how much 
others are bearing from us. He who would weigh well and 
rightly his own doings would not be the man to judge 
severely of another. 

2. The spiritually-minded man putteth care of himself 
before all cares; and he who diligently attendeth to himself 
easily keepeth silence concerning others. Thou wilt never 
be spiritually minded and godly unless thou art silent con- 
cerning other men's matters and take full heed to thyself. 
If thou think wholly upon thyself and upon God, what thou 
seest out of doors shall move thee little. Where art thou 
when thou art not present to thyself? and when thou hast 
overrun all things, what hath it profited thee, thyself being 
neglected? If thou wouldst have peace and true unity, thou 
must put aside all other things, and gaze only upon thyself. 

3. Then thou shalt make great progress if thou keep thy- 
self free from all temporal care. Thou shalt lamentably 
fall away if thou set a value upon any worldly thing. Let 
nothing be great, nothing high, nothing pleasing, nothing 



I 



254 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

acceptable unto thee, save God Himself or the things of God. 
Reckon as altogether vain whatsoever consolation comes to 
thee from a creature. The soul that loveth God looketh not 
to anything that is beneath God. God alone is eternal and 
incomprehensible, filling all things, the solace of the soul, and 
the true joy of the heart. 



CHAPTER VI 
Of the joy of a good conscience 

The testimony of a good conscience is the glory of a good 
man. Have a good conscience and thou shalt ever have joy. 
A good conscience is able to bear exceeding much, and is 
exceeding joyful in the midst of adversities; an evil con- 
science is ever fearful and unquiet. Thou shalt rest sweetly 
if thy heart condemn thee not. Never rejoice unless when 
thou hast done well. The wicked have never true joy, nor 
feel internal peace, for there is no peace, saith my God, to the 
wicked.^ And if they say "we are in peace, there shall no 
harm happen unto us, and who shall dare to do us hurt?" 
believe them not, for suddenly shall the wrath of God rise up 
against them, and their deeds shall be brought to nought, 
and their thoughts shall perish. 

2. To glory in tribulation is not grievous to him who 
loveth; for such glorying is glorying in the Cross of Christ. 
Brief is the glory which is given and received of men. Sad- 
ness always goeth hand in hand with the glory of the world. 
The glory of the good is in their conscience, and not in 
the report of men. The joy of the upright is from God and 
in God, and their joy is in the truth. He who desireth true 
and eternal glory careth not for that which is temporal ; and 
he who seeketh temporal glory, or who despiseth it from his 
heart, is proved to bear little love for that which is heavenly. 
He who careth for neither praises nor reproaches hath 
great tranquillity of heart. 

3, He will easily be contented and filled with peace, whoso 
conscience is pure. Thou art none the holier if thou art 
praised, nor the viler if thou art reproached. Thou art what 

^Isaiah IviL ai. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 255 

thou art ; and thou canst not be better than God pronounceth 
thee to be. If thou considerest well what thou art inwardly, 
thou wilt not care what men will say to thee. Man looketh 
on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the 
heart:' man looketh on the deed, but God considereth the 
intent. It is the token of a humble spirit always to do well, 
and to set little by oneself. Not to look for consolation 
from any created thing is a sign of great purity and inward 
faithfulness. 

4. He that seeketh no outward witness on his own behalf, 
showeth plainly that he hath committed himself wholly to 
God. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, as 
St. Paul saith, but whom the Lord commendeth.^ To walk 
inwardly with God, and not to be held by any outer affections, 
is the state of a spiritual man. 



CHAPTER VII 
Of loving Jesus above all things 

Blessed is he who understandeth what it is to love Jesus, 
and to despise himself for Jesus' sake. He must give up 
all that he loveth for his Beloved, for Jesus will be loved 
alone above all things. The love of created things is deceiv- 
ing and unstable, but the love of Jesus is faithful and lasting. 
He who cleaveth to created things will fall with their slip- 
periness; but he who embraceth Jesus will stand upright 
for ever. Love Him and hold Him for thy friend, for He 
will not forsake thee when all depart from thee, nor will he 
suffer thee to perish at the last. Thou must one day be 
separated from all, whether thou wilt or wilt not. 

2. Cleave thou to Jesus in life and death, and commit 
thyself unto His faithfulness, who, when all men fail thee, 
is alone able to help thee. Thy Beloved is such, by nature, 
that He will suffer no rival, but alone will possess thy heart, 
and as a king will sit upon His own throne. If thou wouldst 
learn to put away from thee every created thing, Jesus 
would freely take up His abode with thee. Thou wilt find 
all trust little better than lost which thou hast placed in men, 

' I Samuel xvL 7. *a Corinthians x. 18. 



256 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

and not in Jesus. Trust not nor lean upon a reed shaken 
with the wind, because all flesh is grass, and the goodliness 
thereof falleth as the Hozver of the field} 

3. Thou wilt be quickly deceived if thou lookest only upon 
the outward appearance of men, for if thou seekest thy com- 
fort and profit in others, thou shalt too often experience loss. 
If thou seekest Jesus in all things thou shalt verily find 
Jesus, but if thou seekest thyself thou shalt also find thyself, 
but to thine own hurt. For if a man seeketh not Jesus he is 
more hurtful to himself than all the world and all his 
adversaries. 

CHAPTER VIII 
Of the intimate love of Jesus 

When Jesus is present all is well and nothing seemeth hard, 
but when Jesus is not present everything is hard. When 
Jesus speaketh not within, our comfort is nothing worth, 
but if Jesus speaketh but a single word great is the comfort 
we experience. Did not Mary Magdalene rise up quickly 
from the place where she wept when Martha said to her. 
The Master is come and calleth for thee?^ Happy hour 
when Jesus calleth thee from tears to the joy of the spirit! 
How dry and hard art thou without Jesus! How senseless 
and vain if thou desirest aught beyond Jesus! Is not this 
greater loss than if thou shouldst lose the whole world? 

2. What can the world profit thee without Jesus? To be 
without Jesus is the nethermost hell, and to be with Jesus 
is sweet paradise. If Jesus were with thee no enemy could 
hurt thee. He who findeth Jesus findeth a good treasure, 
yea, good above all good; and he who loseth Jesus loseth 
exceeding much, yea, more than the whole world. Most 
poor is he who liveth without Jesus, and most rich is he who 
is much with Jesus. 

3. It is great skill to know how to live with Jesus, and to 
know how to hold Jesus is great wisdom. Be thou humble 
and peaceable and Jesus shall be with thee. Be godly and 
quiet, and Jesus will remain with thee. Thou canst quickly 
drive away Jesus and lose His favour if thou wilt turn away 

* Isaiah xl. 6. ' John xi. 28. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 257 

to the outer things. And if thou hast put Him to flight and 
lost Him, to whom wilt thou flee, and whom then wilt thou 
seek for a friend? Without a friend thou canst not Hve 
long, and if Jesus be not thy friend above all thou shalt be 
very sad and desolate. Madly therefore doest thou if thou 
trusteth or findest joy in any other. It is preferable to have 
the whole world against thee, than Jesus offended with thee. 
Therefore of all that are dear to thee, let Jesus be specially 
loved. 

4. Let all be loved for Jesus' sake, but Jesus for His own. 
Jesus Christ alone is to be specially loved, for He alone is 
found good and faithful above all friends. For His sake 
and in Him let both enemies and friends be dear to thee, 
and pray for them all that they may all know and love Him. 
Never desire to be specially praised or loved, because this 
belongeth to God alone, who hath none like unto Himself. 
Nor wish thou that any one set his heart on thee, nor do 
thou give thyself up to the love of any, but let Jesus be in 
thee and in every good man. 

5. Be pure and free within thyself, and be not entangled 
by any created thing. Thou oughtest to bring a bare and 
clean heart to God, if thou desirest to be ready to see how 
gracious the Lord is. And in truth, unless thou be pre- 
vented and drawn on by His grace, thou wilt not attain to 
this, that having cast out and dismissed all else, thou alone 
art united to God. For when the grace of God cometh to 
a^man, then he becometh able to do all things, and when it 
departeth then he will be poor and weak and given up unto 
troubles. In these thou art not to be cast down nor to de- 
spair, but to rest with calm mind on the will of God, and 
to bear all things which come upon thee unto the praise of 
Jesus Christ; for after winter cometh summer, after night 
returneth day, after the tempest a great calm. 

CHAPTER IX 
Of the lack of all comfort 

It is no hard thing to despise human comfort when divine 
is present. It is a great thing, yea very great, to be able to 

9 — HC vu 



258 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

bear the loss both of human and divine comfort ; and for the 
love of God willingly to bear exile of heart, and in nought 
to seek oneself, nor to look to one's own merit. What great 
matter is it, if thou be cheerful of heart and devout when 
favour cometh to thee? That is an hour wherein all rejoice. 
Pleasantly enough doth he ride whom the grace of God 
carrieth. And what marvel, if he feeleth no burden who 
is carried by the Almighty, and is led onwards by the Guide 
from on high ? 

2. We are willing to accept anything for comfort, and it 
is difficult for a man to be freed from himself. The holy 
martyr Laurence overcame the love of the world and even 
of his priestly master, because he despised everything in the 
world which seemed to be pleasant; and for the love of 
Christ he calmly suffered even God's chief priest, Sixtus, 
whom he dearly loved, to be taken from him. Thus by the 
love of the Creator he overcame the love of man, and instead 
of human comfort he chose rather God's good pleasure. So 
also learn thou to resign any near and beloved friend for 
the love of God. Nor take it amiss when thou hast been 
deserted by a friend, knowing that we must all be parted 
from one another at last. 

3. Mightily and long must a man strive within himself 
before he learn altogether to overcome himself, and to draw 
his whole affection towards God. When a man resteth upon 
himself, he easily slippeth away unto human comforts. But 
a true lover of Christ, and a diligent seeker after virtue, 
falleth not back upon those comforts, nor seeketh such 
sweetnesses as may be tasted and handled, but desireth 
rather hard exercises, and to undertake severe labours for 
Christ. 

4. When, therefore, spiritual comfort is given by God, 
receive it with giving of thanks, and know that it is the 
gift of God, not thy desert. Be not lifted up, rejoice not 
overmuch nor foolishly presume, but rather be more humble 
for the gift, more wary and more careful in all thy doings; 
for that hour will pass away, and temptation will follow. 
When comfort is taken from thee, do not straightway despair, 
but wait for the heavenly visitation with humility and pa- 
tience, for God is able to give thee back greater favour and 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 259 

consolation. This is not new nor strange to those who have 
inade trial of the way of God, for with the great saints and 
the ancient prophets there was often this manner of change. 

5. Wherefore one said when the favour of God was present 
with him, / said in my prosperity I shall never be moved^ 
but he goeth on to say what he felt within himself when 
the favour departed: Thou didst turn Thy face from me, 
and I was troubled. In spite whereof he in no wise de- 
spaireth, but the more instantly entreateth God, and saith. 
Unto Thee, Lord, will I cry, and will pray unto my God; 
and then he receiveth the fruit of his prayer, and testifieth 
how he hath been heard, saying. The Lord heard me and had 
mercy upon me, the Lord was my helper. But wherein? 
Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy. Thou hast put off 
my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. If it was thus 
with the great saints, we who are poor and needy ought not 
to despair if we are sometimes in the warmth and sometimes 
in the cold, for the Spirit cometh and goeth according to the 
good pleasure of His will. Wherefore holy Job saith. Thou 
dost visit him in the morning, and suddenly Thou dost prove 
him* 

6. Whereupon then can I hope, or wherein may I trust, 
save only in the great mercy of God, and the hope of heavenly 
grace? For whether good men are with me, godly brethren 
or faithful friends, whether holy books or beautiful dis- 
courses, whether sweet hymns and songs, all these help but 
little, and have but little savour when I am deserted by God's 
favour and left to mine own poverty. There is no better 
remedy, then, than patience and denial of self, and an abid- 
ing in the will of God. 

7. I have never found any man so religious and godly, 
but that he felt sometimes a withdrawal of the divine favour, 
and lack of fervour. No saint was ever so filled with 
rapture, so enlightened, but that sooner or later he was 
tempted. For he is not worthy of the great vision of God, 
who, for God's sake, hath not been exercised by some temp- 
tation. For temptation is wont to go before as a sign of the 
comfort which shall follow, and heavenly comfort is promised 
to those who are proved by temptation. As it is written, 

^ Psalm XXX. 6. ^ Job vii. 18. 



260 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

To him that overcometh I will give to eat of the tree of 
life.* 

8. Divine comfort is given that a man may be stronger 
to bear adversities. And temptation foUoweth, lest he be 
Ufted up because of the benefit. The devil sleepeth not ; thy 
flesh is not yet dead; therefore, cease thou not to make thy- 
self ready unto the battle, for enemies stand on thy right 
hand and on thy left, and they are never at rest. 



CHAPTER X 
Of gratitude for the Grace of God 

Why seekest thou rest when thou art born to labour? Pre- 
pare thyself for patience more than for comforts, and for 
bearing the cross more than for joy. For who among the 
men of this world would not gladly receive consolation and 
spiritual joy if he might always have it? For spiritual com- 
forts exceed all the delights of the world, and all the pleasures 
of the flesh. For all worldly delights are either empty or 
unclean, whilst spiritual delights alone are pleasant and 
honourable, the offspring of virtue, and poured forth by God 
into pure minds. But no man can always enjoy these divine 
comforts at his own will, because the season of temptation 
ceaseth not for long. 

2. Great is the difference between a visitation from above 
and false liberty of spirit and gjeat confidence in self. God 
doeth well in giving us the grace of comfort, but man doeth 
ill in not immediately giving God thanks thereof. And thus 
the gifts of grace are not able to flow unto us, because we are 
ungrateful to the Author of them, and return them not 
wholly to the Fountain whence they flow. For grace ever 
becometh the portion of him who is grateful and that is 
taken away from the proud, which is wont to be given to 
the humble, 

3. I desire no consolation which taketh away from me 
compunction, I love no contemplation which leadeth to 
pride. For all that is high is not holy, nor is every- 
thing that is sweet good; every desire is not pure; nor is 

* Revelations ii. 7. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 261 

everything that is dear to us pleasing unto God. Willingly 
do I accept that grace whereby I am made humbler and 
more wary and more ready to renounce myself. He who 
is made learned by the gift of grace and taught wisdom by 
the stroke of the withdrawal thereof, will not dare to 
claim any good thing for himself, but will rather confess 
that he is poor and needy. Give unto God the thing which 
is God's^ and ascribe to thyself that which is thine ; that is, 
give thanks unto God for His grace, but for thyself alone 
confess thy fault, and that thy punishment is deserved for 
thy fault. 

4. Sit thou down always in the lowest room and thou 
shalt be given the highest place." For the highest cannot 
be without the lowest. For the highest saints of God are 
least in their own sight, and the more glorious they are, so 
much the lowlier are they in themselves; full of grace and 
heavenly glory, they are not desirous of vain-glory ; resting 
on God and strong in His might, they cannot be lifted up in 
any wise. And they who ascribe unto God all the good which 
they have received, " seek not glory one of another, but the 
glory which cometh from God only," and they desire that 
God shall be praised in Himself and in all His Saints above 
all things, and they are always striving for this very thing. 

5. Be thankful, therefore, for the least benefit and thou 
shalt be worthy to receive greater. Let the least be unto 
thee even as the greatest, and let that which is of little 
account be unto thee as a special gift. If the majesty of 
the Giver be considered, nothing that is given shall seem 
small and of no worth, for that is not a small thing which 
is given by the Most High God. Yea, though He gave 
punishment and stripes, we ought to be thankful, because 
He ever doth for our profit whatever He sufifereth to come 
upon us. He who seeketh to retain the favour of God, 
let him be thankful for the favour which is given, and 
patient in respect of that which is taken away. Let him 
pray that it may return; let him be wary and humble that 
he lose it not. 

^Matthew xxii. 21. * Luke xiv. 10. 



262 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

CHAPTER XI 

Of the fewness of those who love the Cross of Jesus 

Jesus hath many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few 
bearers of His Cross. He hath many seekers of comfort, 
but few of tribulation. He findeth many companions of 
His table, but few of His fasting. All desire to rejoice with 
Him, few are willing to undergo anything for His sake. 
Many follow Jesus that they may eat of His loaves, but few 
that they may drink of the cup of His passion. Many are 
astonished at His Miracles, few follow after the shame of 
His Cross. Many love Jesus so long as no adversities 
happen to them. Many praise Him and bless Him, so long 
as they receive any comforts from Him. But if Jesus hide 
Himself and withdraw from them a little while, they fall 
either into complaining or into too great dejection of mind. 

2. But they who love Jesus for Jesus' sake, and not for 
any consolation of their own, bless Him in all tribulation 
and anguish of heart as in the highest consolation. And 
if He should never give them consolation, nevertheless they 
would always praise Him and always give Him thanks. 

3. Oh what power hath the pure love of Jesus, unmixed 
with any gain or love of self ! Should not all they be called 
mercenary who are always seeking consolations? Do they 
not prove themselves lovers of self more than of Christ who 
are always seeking their own gain and advantage? Where 
shall be found one who is willing to serve God altogether 
for nought? 

4. Rarely is any one found so spiritual as to be stripped 
of all selfish thoughts, for who shall find a man truly poor 
in spirit and free of all created things? "His value is 
from afar, yea from the ends of the earth." A man may 
give away all his goods, yet that is nothing; and if he do 
many deeds of penitence, yet that is a small thing; and 
though he understand all knowledge, yet that is afar off; 
and if he have great virtue and zealous devotion, yet much 
is lacking unto him, yea, one thing which is the most neces- 
sary to him of all. What is it then? That having given 
up all things besides, he give up himself and go forth from 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 263 

himself utterly, and retain nothing of self-love ; and having 
done all things which he knoweth to be his duty to do, that 
he feel that he hath done nothing. Let him not reckon that 
much which might be much esteemed, but let him pronounce 
himself to be in truth an unprofitable servant, as the Truth 
Himself saith, When ye have done all things tliat are com- 
manded you, say, we are unprofitable servants^ Then may 
he be truly poor and naked in spirit, and be able to say with 
the Prophet, As for me, I am poor and needy." Nevertheless, 
no man is richer than he, no man stronger, no man freer. 
For he knoweth both how to give up himself and all things, 
and how to be lowly in his own eyes. 



CHAPTER Xn 

Of the royal way of the Holy Cross 

That seemeth a hard saying to many, // any man will come 
after Me, let him deny himself and take up his Cross and 
follow Me} But it will be much harder to hear that last 
sentence. Depart from me, ye wicked, into eternal Hre?' For 
they who now willingly hear the word of the Cross and 
follow it, shall not then fear the hearing of eternal dam- 
nation. This sign of the Cross shall be in heaven when the 
Lord cometh to Judgment. Then all servants of the Cross, 
who in life have conformed themselves to the Crucified, 
shall draw nigh unto Christ the Judge with great boldness. 
2. Why fearest thou then to take up the cross which 
leadeth to a kingdom? In the Cross is health, in the Cross 
is life, in the Cross is protection from enemies, in the Cross 
is heavenly sweetness, in the Cross strength of mind, in the 
Cross joy of the spirit, in the Cross the height of virtue, in 
the Cross perfection of holiness. There is no health of the 
soul, no hope of eternal . life, save in the Cross. Take up 
therefore, thy cross and follow Jesus and thou shalt go 
into eternal life. He went before thee bearing His Cross 
and died for thee upon the Cross, that thou also mayest bear 
thy cross and mayest love to be crucified upon it. For if 

'•Luke xvii. lo. 'Psalm xxv. 16. ^ Matthew xvi. 24. 
' Matthew xxv. 41. 



264 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

thou be dead with Him, thou shalt also live with Him, and 
if thou be a partaker of His sufferings thou shalt be also 
of His glory. 

3. Behold everything dependeth upon the Cross, and every- 
thing lieth in dying; and there is none other way unto life 
and to true inward peace, except the way of the Holy Cross 
and of daily mortification. Go where thou wilt, seek whatso- 
ever thou wilt, and thou shalt find no higher way above 
nor safer way below, than the way of the Holy Cross. Dis- 
pose and order all things according to thine own will and 
judgment, and thou shalt ever find something to suffer either 
willingly or unwillingly, and thus thou shalt ever find thy 
cross. For thou shalt either feel pain of body, or tribulation 
of spirit within thy soul. 

4. Sometimes thou wilt be forsaken of God, sometimes 
thou wilt be tried by thy neighbour, and which is more, thou 
wilt often be wearisome to thyself. And still thou canst 
not be delivered nor eased by any remedy or consolation, 
but must bear so long as God will. For God will have thee 
learn to suffer tribulation without consolation, and to submit 
thyself fully to it, and by tribulation be made more humble. 
No man understandeth the Passion of Christ in his heart so 
well as he who hath had somewhat of the like suffering 
himself. The Cross therefore is always ready, and every 
where waiteth for thee. Thou canst not flee from it whither- 
soever thou hurriest, for whithersoever thou comest, thou 
bearest thyself with thee, and shalt ever find thyself. Turn 
thee above, turn thee below, turn thee without, turn thee 
within, and in them all thou shalt find the Cross ; and needful 
is it that thou everywhere possess patience if thou wilt have 
internal peace and gain the everlasting crown. 

5. If thou willingly bear the Cross, it will bear thee, and 
will bring thee to the end which thou seekest, even where 
there shall be the end of suffering; though it shall not be 
here. H thou bear it unwillingly, thou makest a burden for 
thyself and greatly increaseth thy load, and yet thou must 
bear it. H thou cast away one cross, without doubt thou 
shalt find another and perchance a heavier. 

6. Thinkest thou to escape what no mortal hath been able 
to avoid? Which of the saints in the world hath been with- 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 265 

out the cross and tribulation ? For not even Jesus Christ our 
Lord was one hour without the anguish of His Passion, so 
long as He lived. It behooved, He said, Christ to suffer and 
to rise from the dead, and so enter into his glory* And how 
dost thou seek another way than this royal way, which is 
the way of the Holy Cross ? 

7. The whole life of Christ was a cross and a martyrdom, 
and dost thou seek for thyself rest and joy? Thou art 
wrong, thou art wrong, if thou seekest aught but to suffer 
tribulations, for this whole mortal life is full of miseries, 
and set round with crosses. And the higher a man hath 
advanced in the spirit, the heavier crosses he will often 
find, because the sorrow of his banishment increaseth with 
the strength of his love. 

8. But yet the man who is thus in so many wise afflicted, 
is not without refreshment of consolation, because he feeleth 
abundant fruit to be growing within him out of the bearing 
of his cross. For whilst he willingly submitteth himself to 
it, every burden of tribulation is turned into an assurance 
of divine comfort, and the more the flesh is wasted by afflic- 
tion, the more is the spirit strengthened mightily by inward 
grace. And ofttimes so greatly is he comforted by the desire 
for tribulation and adversity, through love of conformity 
to the Cross of Christ, that he would not be without sorrow 
and tribulation ; for he believeth that he shall be the more 
acceptable to God, the more and the heavier burdens he is 
able to bear for His sake. This is not the virtue of man, 
but the grace of Christ which hath such power and energy 
in the weak flesh, that what it naturally hateth and fleeth 
from, this it draweth to and loveth through fervour of spirit. 

9. It is not in the nature of man to bear the cross, to love 
the cross, to keep under the body and to bring it into 
subjection, to fly from honours, to bear reproaches meekly, 
to despise self and desire to be despised, to bear all adver- 
sities and losses, and to desire no prosperity in this world. 
If thou lookest to thyself, thou wilt of thyself be able to do 
none of this; but if thou trustest in the Lord, endurance 
shall be given thee from heaven, and the world and the flesh 
shall be made subject to thy command. Yea, thou shalt 

• Luke xxiv. 46. 



266 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

not even fear thine adversary the devil, if thou be armed 
with faith and signed with the Cross of Christ. 

ID. Set thyself, therefore, like a good and faithful servant 
of Christ, to the manful bearing of the Cross of thy Lord, 
who out of love was crucified for thee. Prepare thyself for 
the bearing many adversities and manifold troubles in this 
wretched life; because so it shall be with thee whereso- 
ever thou art, and so in very deed thou shalt find it, 
wherever thou hide thyself. Thus it must be ; and there is 
no means of escaping from tribulation and sorrow, except 
to bear them patiently. Drink thou lovingly thy Lord's 
cup if thou desirest to be His friend and to have thy lot 
with Him. Leave consolations to God, let Him do as seemeth 
best to Him concerning them. But do thou set thyself to 
endure tribulations, and reckon them the best consolations; 
for the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to he 
compared zvith the glory which shall be revealed in us* nor 
would they be even if thou wert to endure them all. 

11. When thou hast come to this, that tribulation is sweet 
and pleasant to thee for Christ's sake, then reckon that it 
is well with thee, because thou hast found paradise on earth. 
So long as it is hard to thee to suffer and thou desirest to 
escape, so long it will not be well with thee, and tribulations 
will follow thee everywhere. 

12. If thou settest thyself to that thou oughtest, namely, to 
suffer and to die, it shall soon go better with thee, and thou 
shalt find peace. Though thou shouldest be caught up with 
Paul unto the third heaven," thou art not on that account 
secure from suffering evil. / will show him, saith Jesus, 
what great things he must suffer for My Name's sake.' It 
remaineth, therefore, to thee to suffer, if thou wilt love 
Jesus and serve Him continually. 

13. Oh that thou wert worthy to suffer something for the 
name of Jesus, how great glory should await thee, what 
rejoicing among all the saints of God. what bright example 
also to thy neighbour! For all men commend patience, 
although few be willing to practise it. Thou oughtest surely 
to suffer a little for Christ when many suffer heavier things 
for the world. 

* Romans viii. 18. *3 Corinthians xii. 2. •Acts £x. 16. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 267 

14. Know thou of a surety that thou oughtest to lead the 
life of a dying man. And the more a man dieth to himself, 
the more he beginneth to live towards God. None is fit for 
the understanding of heavenly things, unless he hath sub- 
mitted himself to bearing adversities for Christ. Nothing 
more acceptable to God, nothing more healthful for thyself 
in this world, than to suffer willingly for Christ. And if it 
were thine to choose, thou oughtest rather to wish to suffer 
adversities for Christ, than to be refreshed with manifold 
consolations, for thou wouldest be more like Christ and 
more conformed to all saints. For our worthiness and 
growth in grace lieth not in many delights and consolations, 
but rather in bearing many troubles and adversities. 

15. If indeed there had been anything better and more 
profitable to the health of men than to suffer, Christ would 
surely have shown it by word and example. For both the 
disciples who followed Him, and all who desire to follow 
Him, He plainly exhorteth to bear their cross, and saith, 
// any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and 
take up his cross, and follow MeJ So now that we have 
thoroughly read and studied all things, let us hear the con- 
clusion of the whole matter. We must through much tribu- 
lation enter into the kingdom of God.^ 

T Luke ix. 23. * Acts xiv. 21. 



THE THIRD BOOK 
ON INWARD CONSOLATION 

CHAPTER I 
Of the inward voice of Christ to the faithful soul 

/WILL hearken what the Lord God shall say within me} 
Blessed is the soul which heareth the Lord speaking 
within it, and receiveth the word of consolation from 
His mouth. Blessed are the ears which receive the echoes of 
the soft whisper of God, and turn not aside to the whisper- 
ings of this world. Blessed truly are the ears which listen 
not to the voice that soundeth without, but to that which 
teacheth truth inwardly. Blessed are the eyes which are 
closed to things without, but are fixed upon things within. 
Blessed are they who search inward things and study to 
prepare themselves more and more by daily exercises for the 
receiving of heavenly mysteries. Blessed are they who long 
to have leisure for God, and free themselves from every 
hindrance of the world. Think on these things, O my soul, 
and shut the doors of thy carnal desires, so mayest thou hear 
what the Lord God will say within thee. 

2. These things saith thy Beloved, " I am thy salvation, 
I am thy peace and thy life. Keep thee unto Me, and thou 
shalt find peace." Put away thee all transitory things, 
seek those things that are eternal. For what are all tem- 
poral things but deceits, and what shall all created things 
help thee if thou be forsaken by the Creator? Therefore 
put all things else away, and give thyself to the Creator, 
to be well pleasing and faithful to Him, that thou mayest 
be able to attain true blessedness. 

* Psalm Ixxxv. 8. 
268 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 269 

CHAPTER II 
What the truth saith inwardly without noise of words 

Speak Lord, for thy servant hcareth} I am Thy servant; 
give me understanding that I may know Thy testimonies. 
Incline my heart unto the -words of Thy mouth.' Let thy 
speech distil as the dew. The children of Israel spake in old 
time to Moses, Speak thou unto us and we will hear, but let 
not the Lord speak unto us lest we die.^ Not thus, O Lord, 
not thus do I pray, but rather with Samuel the prophet, I 
beseech Thee humbly and earnestly. Speak, Lord, for Thy 
servant heareth. Let not Moses speak to me, nor any 
prophet, but rather speak Thou, O Lord, who didst inspire 
and illuminate all the prophets ; for Thou alone without them 
canst perfectly fill me with knowledge, whilst they without 
Thee shall profit nothing. 

2. They can indeed utter words, but they give not the spirit. 
They speak with exceeding beauty, but when Thou art silent 
they kindle not the heart. They give us scriptures, but Thou 
makest known the sense thereof. They bring us mysteries, 
but Thou revealest the things which are signified. They 
utter commandments, but Thou helpest to the fulfilling of 
them. Thy show the way, but Thou givest strength for 
the journey. They act only outwardly, but Thou dost in- 
struct and enlighten the heart. They water, but Thou givest 
the increase. They cry with words, but Thou givest under- 
standing to the hearer. 

3. Therefore let not Moses speak to me, but Thou, O Lord 
my God, Eternal Truth; lest I die and bring forth no fruit, 
being outwardly admonished, but not enkindled within; lest 
the word heard but not followed, known but not loved, 
believed but not obeyed, rise up against me in the judgment. 
Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth; Thou hast the words 
of eternal life.'' Speak unto me for some consolation unto 
my soul, for the amendment of my whole life, and for the 
praise and glory and eternal honour of Thy Name. 

^ I Samuel iii. 9. ' Psalm cxix. 125.1 ' Exodus xx. 19. 

*John vi. 68. 



270 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 



CHAPTER III 

How all the words of God are to be heard with humility, 
and how many consider them not 

" My Son, hear My words, for My words are most sweet, 
surpassing all the knowledge of the philosophers and wise 
men of this world. My words are spirit, and they are life/' 
and are not to be weighed by man's understanding. They 
are not to be drawn forth for vain approbation, but to be 
heard in silence, and to be received with all humility and 
with deep love." 

2. And I said, "Blessed is the man whom Thou teachest, 
Lord, and instructest him in^ Thy law, that Thou mayest 
give him rest in time of adversity/ and that he be not deso- 
late in the earth." 

3. " I," saith the Lord, " taught the prophets from the be- 
ginning, and even now cease I not to speak unto all; but 
many are deaf and hardened against My voice; many love 
to listen to the world rather than to God, they follow after 
the desires of the flesh more readily than after the good 
pleasure of God. The world promiseth things that are tem- 
poral and small, and it is served with great eagerness. I 
promise things that are great and eternal, and the hearts of 
mortals are slow to stir. Who serveth and obeyeth Me in 
all things, with such carefulness as he serveth the world and 
its rulers? 

Be thou ashamed, O Sidon, saith the sea; % 
And if thou reason seelcest, hear thou me. 

For a little reward men make a long journey; for eternal 
life many will scarce lift a foot once from the ground. 
Mean reward is sought after; for a single piece of money 
sometimes there is shameful striving; for a thing which is 
vain and for a trifling promise, men shrink not from toiling 
day and night." 

4. " But, O shame ! for an unchangeable good, for an in- 
estimable reward, for the highest honour and for a glory 
that fadeth not away, it is irksome to them to toil even a 

*John vi. 63. 'Psalm xciv. 13. * Isaiah xxiii. 4. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 271 

little. Be thou ashamed therefore, slothful and discontented 
servant, for they are found readier unto perdition than thou 
unto life. They rejoice more heartily in vanity than thou 
in the truth. Sometimes, indeed, they are disappointed of 
their hope, but my promise faileth no man, nor sendeth away 
empty him who trusteth in Me. What I have promised I 
will give; what I have said I will fulfil; if only a man 
remain faithful in My love unto the end. Therefore am I 
the rewarder of all good men, and a strong approver of all 
who are godly. 

5. " Write My words in thy heart and consider them dili- 
gently, for they shall be very needful to thee in time of 
temptation. What thou understandest not when thou readest, 
thou shalt know in the time of thy visitation. I am wont to 
visit Mine elect in twofold manner, even by temptation and 
by comfort, and I teach them two lessons day by day, the 
one in chiding their faults, the other in exhorting them to 
grow in grace. He who hath My words and rejecteth them, 
hath one who shall judge him at the last day." 

A PRAYER FOR THE SPIRIT OF DEVOTION 

6. O Lord my God, Thou art all my good, and who am 
I that I should dare to speak unto Thee? I am the very 
poorest of Thy servants, an abject worm, much poorer and 
more despicable than I know or dare to say. Nevertheless re- 
member, O Lord, that I am nothing, I have nothing, and 
can do nothing. Thou only art good, just and holy; Thou 
canst do all things, art over all things, fillest all things, 
leaving empty only the sinner. Call to mind Thy tender 
mercies, and fill my heart with Thy grace, Thou who wilt 
not that Thy work should return to Thee void. 

7. How can I bear this miserable life unless Thy mercy 
and grace strengthen me? Turn not away Thy face from 
me, delay not Thy visitation. Withdraw not Thou Thy 
comfort from me, lest my soul " gasp after thee as a thirsty 
land." Lord, teach me to do Thy will, teach me to walk 
humbly and uprightly before Thee, for Thou art my wisdom, 
who knowest me in truth, and knewest me before the world 
was made and before I was born into the world. 



272 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

CHAPTER IV 
How we must walk in truth and humility before God 

" My Son ! walk before Me. in truth, and in the simplicity 
of thy heart seek Me continually. He who walketh before 
Me in the truth shall be safe from evil assaults, and the 
truth shall deliver him from the wiles and slanders of the 
wicked. If the truth shall make thee free, thou shalt 
be free indeed, and shalt not care for the vain words of 
men." 

2. Lord, it is true as Thou sayest; let it, I pray Thee, be 
so with me; let Thy truth teach me, let it keep me and 
preserve me safe unto the end. Let it free me from 
all evil and inordinate affection, and I will walk before Thee 
in great freedom of heart. 

3. " I will teach thee," saith the Truth, " the things which 
are right and pleasing before Me. Think upon thy sins 
with great displeasure and sorrow, and never think thyself 
anything because of thy good works. Verily thou art a sin- 
ner, liable to many passions, yea, tied and bound with them. 
Of thyself thou always tendest unto nothing, thou wilt 
quickly fall, quickly be conquered, quickly disturbed, quickly 
undone. Thou hast nought whereof to glory, but many 
reasons why thou shouldest reckon thyself vile, for thou 
art far weaker than thou art able to comprehend. 

4. "Let, therefore, nothing which thou doest seem to thee 
great; let nothing be grand, nothing of value or beauty, 
nothing worthy of honour, nothing lofty, nothing praise- 
worthy or desirable, save what is eternal. Let the eternal 
truth please thee above all things, let thine own great vile- 
ness displease thee continually. Fear, denounce, flee nothing 
so much as thine own faults and sins, which ought to be more 
displeasing to thee than any loss whatsoever of goods. 
There are some who walk not sincerely before me, but being 
led by curiosity and pride, they desire to know my secret 
things and to understand the deep things of God, whilst they 
neglect themselves and their salvation. These often fall 
into great temptations and sins because of their pride and 
curiosity, for I am against them. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 273 

5. "Fear thou the judgments of God, fear greatly the 
wrath of the Almighty. Shrink from debating upon the 
works of the Most High, but search narrowly thine own 
iniquities into what great sins thou hast fallen, and how many 
good things thou hast neglected. There are some who carry 
their devotion only in books, some in pictures, some in out- 
ward signs and figures; some have Me in their mouths but 
little in their hearts. Others there are who, being enlight- 
ened in their understanding and purged in their affections, 
continually long after eternal things, hear of earthly things 
with unwillingness, obey the necessities of nature with sor- 
row. And these understand what the Spirit of truth 
speaketh in them ; for He teacheth them to despise earthly 
things and to love heavenly; to neglect the world and to de- 
sire heaven all the day and night." 



CHAPTER V 

Of the wonderful power of the Divine Love 

I BLESS Thee, O Heavenly Father, Father of my Lord Jesus 
Christ, for that Thou hast vouchsafed to think of me, poor 
that I am. O, Father of Mercies and God of all comfort,^ 
I give thanks unto Thee, who refreshest me sometimes with 
thine own comfort, when I am unworthy of any comfort. 
I bless and glorify Thee continually, with thine only be- 
gotten Son and the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, for ever and 
ever. O Lord God, Holy lover of my soul, when Thou 
shalt come into my heart, all my inward parts shall rejoice. 
Thou art my glory and the joy of my heart. Thou art my 
hope and my refuge in the day of my trouble. 

2. But because I am still weak in love and imperfect in 
virtue, I need to be strengthened and comforted by Thee; 
therefore visit Thou me often and instruct me with Thy 
holy ways of discipline. Deliver me from evil passions, and 
cleanse my heart from all inordinate affections, that, being 
healed and altogether cleansed within, I may be made ready 
to love, strong to suffer, steadfast to endure. 

3. Love is a great thing, a good above all others, which 

^ 2 Corinthians i. 3. 



274 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

alone maketh every heavy burden light, and equaliseth every 
inequality. For it beareth the burden and maketh it no 
burden, it maketh every bitter thing to be sweet and of 
good taste. The surpassing love of Jesus impelleth to great 
works, and exciteth to the continual desiring of greater per- 
fection. Love willeth to be raised up, and not to be held 
down by any mean thing. Love willeth to be free and aloof 
from all worldly affection, lest its inward power of vision 
be hindered, lest it be entangled by any worldly prosperity 
or overcome by adversity. Nothing is sweeter than love, 
nothing stronger, nothing loftier, nothing broader, nothing 
pleasanter, nothing fuller or better in heaven nor on earth, 
for love was born of God and cannot rest save in God 
above all created things. 

4. He who loveth flyeth, runneth, and is glad; he is free 
and not hindered. He giveth all things for all things, and 
hath all things in all things, because he resteth in One who 
is high above all, from whom every good floweth and pro- 
ceedeth. He looketh not for gifts, but turneth himself to 
the Giver above all good things. Love oftentimes knoweth 
no measure, but breaketh out above all measure ; love f eeleth 
no burden, reckoneth not labours, striveth after more than 
it is able to do, pleadeth not impossibility, because it judgeth 
all things which are lawful for it to be possible. It is 
strong therefore for all things, and it fulfilleth many things, 
and is successful where he who loveth not faileth and lieth 
down. 

5. Love is watchful, and whilst sleeping still keepeth 
watch; though fatigued it is not weary, though pressed it is 
not forced, though alarmed it is not terrified, but like the 
living flame and the burning torch, it breaketh forth on high 
and securely triumpheth. If a man loveth, he knoweth what 
this voice crieth. For the ardent aflFection of the soul is a 
great clamour in the ears of God, and it saith : My God, my 
Beloved ! Thou art all mine, and I am all Thine. 

6. Enlarge Thou me in love, that I may learn to taste 
with the innermost mouth of my heart how sweet it is to 
love, to be dissolved, and to swim in love. Let me be holden 
by love, mounting above myself through exceeding fervour 
and admiration. Let me sing the song of love, let me follow 



I 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 275 

Thee my Beloved on high, let my soul exhaust itself in Thy 
praise, exulting with love. Let me love Thee more than 
myself, not loving myself except for Thy sake, and all men 
in Thee who truly love Thee, as the law of love commandeth 
which shineth forth from Thee. 

7. Love is swift, sincere, pious, pleasant, gentle, strong, 
patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, manly, and never 
seeking her own; for wheresoever a man seeketh his own, 
there he falleth from love. Love is circumspect, humble, 
and upright; not weak, not fickle, nor intent on vain things; 
sober, chaste, steadfast, quiet, and guarded in all the senses. 
Love is subject and obedient to all that are in authority, 
vile and lowly in its own sight, devout and grateful towards 
God, faithful and always trusting in Him even when God 
hideth His face, for without sorrow we cannot live in love. 

8. He who is not ready to suffer all things, and to con- 
form to the will of the Beloved, is not worthy to be called 
a lover of God. It behovcth him who loveth to embrace 
willingly all hard and bitter things for the Beloved's sake, 
and not to be drawn away from Him because of any 
contrary accidents. 

CHAPTER VI 
Of the proving of the true lover 

" My Son, thou art not yet strong and prudent in thy love." 

2. Wherefore, O my Lord? 

3. " Because for a little opposition thou fallest away from 
thy undertakings, and too eagerly seekest after consolation. 
The strong lover standeth fast in temptations, and believeth 
not the evil persuasions of the enemy. As in prosperity I 
please him, so in adversity I do not displease. 

4. "The prudent lover considereth not the gift of the lover 
so much as the love of the giver. He looketh for the af 
fection more than the value, and setteth all gifts lower than 
the Beloved. The noble lover resteth not in the gift, but 
in Me above every gift. 

5. " All is not lost, though thou sometimes think of Me or 
of My saints, less than thou shouldest desire. That good and 
sweet affection which thou sometimes perceivest is the effect 



276 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

of present grace and some foretaste of the heavenly country; 
but hereon thou must not too much depend, for it goeth and 
Cometh. But to strive against the evil motions of the mind 
which come to us, and to resist the suggestions of the devil, 
is a token of virtue and great merit. 

6. " Therefore let not strange fancies disturb thee, whence- 
soever they arise. Bravely observe thy purpose and thy up- 
right intentions towards God. It is not an illusion when 
thou art sometimes suddenly carried away into rapture, and 
then suddenly art brought back to the wonted vanities of thy 
heart. For thou dost rather unwillingly undergo them than 
cause them; and so long as they displease thee and thou 
strivest against them, it is a merit and no loss. 

7. " Know thou that thine old enemy altogether striveth 
to hinder thy pursuit after good, and to deter thee from 
every godly exercise, to wit, the contemplation of the Saints, 
the pious remembrance of My passion, the profitable recol- 
lection of sin, the keeping of thy own heart, and the stead- 
fast purpose to grow in virtue. He suggesteth to thee many 
evil thoughts, that he may work in thee weariness and ter- 
ror, and so draw thee away from prayer and holy reading. 
Humble confession displeaseth him, and if he were able he 
would make thee to cease from Communion. Believe him 
not, nor heed him, though many a time he hath laid for thee 
the snares of deceit. Account it to be from him, when he 
suggesteth evil and unclean thoughts. Say unto him, * De- 
part unclean spirit; put on shame, miserable one; horribly 
unclean art thou, who bringest such things to mine ears. 
Depart from me, detestable deceiver; thou shalt have no 
part in me; but Jesus shall be with me, as a strong warrior, 
and thou shalt stand confounded. Rather would I die and 
bear all suffering, than consent unto thee. Hold thy peace 
and be dumb ; I will not hear thee more, though thou plottest 
more snares against me. The Lord is my light and my sal- 
vation: whom then shall I fear? Though a host of men 
should rise up against me, yet shall not my heart be afraid. 
The Lord is my strength and my Redeemer.'^ 

8. " Strive thou like a good soldier; and if sometimes thou 
fail through weakness, put on thy strength more bravely 

* Psalms xxvii. 1-3 : xix. 14. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 277 

than before, trusting in My more abundant grace, and take 
thou much heed of vain confidence and pride. Because of it 
many are led into error, and sometimes fall into blindness 
well-nigh irremediable. Let this ruin of the proud, who 
foolishly lift themselves up, be to thee for a warning and 
a continual exhortation to humility." 



CHAPTER VII 
Of hiding our grace under the guard of humility 

"My Son, it is better and safer for thee to hide the grace 
of devotion, and not to lift thyself up on high, nor to 
speak much thereof, nor to value it greatly; but rather 
to despise thyself, and to fear as though this grace were 
given to one unworthy thereof. Nor must thou depend too 
much upon this feeling, for it can very quickly be turned 
into its opposite. Think when thou art in a state of grace 
how miserable and poor thou art wont to be without grace. 
Nor is there advance in spiritual life in this alone, that thou 
hast the grace of consolation, but that thou humbly and 
unselfishly and patiently takest the withdrawal thereof; so 
that thou cease not from the exercise of prayer, nor suf- 
fer thy other common duties to be in anywise neglected; 
rather do thy task more readily, as though thou hadst gained 
more strength and knowledge ; and do not altogether neglect 
thyself because of the dearth and anxiety of spirit which 
thou feelest. 

2. " For there are many who, when things have not gone 
prosperously with them, become forthwith impatient or sloth- 
ful. For the way of a man is not in himself, '^ but it is God's 
to give and to console, when He will, and as much as He 
will, and whom He will, as it shall please Him, and no 
further. Some who were presumptuous because of the grace 
of devotion within them, have destroyed themselves, because 
they would do more than they were able, not considering the 
measure of their own littleness, but rather following the 
impulse of the heart than the judgment of the reason. And 
because they presumed beyond what was well-pleasing unto 
* Jeremiah x. 23. 



278 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

God, therefore they quickly lost grace. They became poor 
and were left vile, who had built for themselves their nest 
in heaven ; so that being humbled and stricken with poverty, 
they might learn not to fly with their own wings, but to 
put their trust under My feathers. They who are as yet 
new and unskilled in the way of the Lord, unless they rule 
themselves after the counsel of the wise, may easily be de- 
ceived and led away. 

3. " But if they wish to follow their own fancies rather 
than trust the experience of others, the result will be very 
dangerous to them if they still refuse to be drawn away from 
their own notion. Those who are wise in their own con- 
ceits seldom patiently endure to be ruled by others. It is 
better to have a small portion of wisdom with humility, and 
a slender understanding, than great treasures of sciences 
with vain self-esteem. It is better for thee to have less than 
much of what may make thee proud. He doeth not very 
discreetly who giveth himself entirely to joy, forgetting his 
former helplessness and the chaste fear of the Lord, which 
feareth to lose the grace offered. Nor is he very wise, after 
a manly sort, who in time of adversity, or any trouble what- 
soever, beareth himself too despairingly, and feeleth con- 
cerning Me less trustfully than he ought. 

4. " He who in time of peace willeth to be oversecure 
shall be often found in time of war overdispirited and full 
of fears. If thou knewest always how to continue humble 
and moderate in thyself, and to guide and rule thine own 
spirit well, thou wouldest not so quickly fall into danger and 
mischief. It is good counsel that when fervour of spirit is 
kindled, thou shouldest meditate how it will be with thee 
when the light is taken away. Which when it doth happen, 
remember that still the light may return again, which I 
have taken away for a time for a warning to thee, and also 
for mine own glory. Such a trial is often more useful than 
if thou hadst always things prosperous according to thine 
own will. 

5. " For merits are not to be reckoned by this, that a man 
hath many visions or consolations, or that he is skilled in 
the Scriptures, or that he is placed in a high situation; but 
that he is grounded upon true humility and filled with divine 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 279 

charity, that he always purely and uprightly seeketh the 
honour of God, that he setteth not by himself, but un- 
feignedly despiseth himself, and even rejoiceth to be despised 
and humbled by others more than to be honoured." 



CHAPTER VIII 

Of a low estimation of self in the sight of God 

I WILL speak unto my Lord who am but dust and ashes. If 
I count myself more, behold Thou standest against me, and 
my iniquities bear true testimony, and I cannot gainsay it. 
But if I abase myself, and bring myself to nought, and shrink 
from all self-esteem, and grind myself to dust, which I am. 
Thy grace will be favourable unto me, and Thy light will 
be near unto my heart ; and all self-esteem, how little soever 
it be, shall be swallowed up in the depths of my nothingness, 
and shall perish for ever. There Thou showest to me my- 
self, what I am, what I was, and whither I have come: 
so foolish was I and ignorant.^ If I am left to myself, 
behold I am nothing, I am all weakness; but if suddenly 
Thou look upon me, immediately I am made strong, and 
filled with new joy. And it is great marvel that I am 
so suddenly lifted up, and so graciously embraced by Thee, 
since I am always being carried to the deep by my own 
weight. 

2. This is the doing of Thy love which freely goeth before 
me and succoureth me in so many necessities, which guardeth 
me also in great dangers and snatcheth me, as I may truly 
say, from innumerable evils. For verily, by loving myself 
amiss, I lost myself, and by seeking and sincerely loving 
Thee alone, I found both myself and Thee, and through love 
I have brought myself to yet deeper nothingness : because 
Thou, O most sweet Lord, dealest with me beyond all merit, 
and above all which I dare ask or think. 

3. Blessed be Thou, O my God, because though I be un- 
worthy of all Thy benefits. Thy bountiful and infinite good- 
ness never ceaseth to do good even to ingrates and to those 
who are turned far from Thee. Turn Thou us unto Thy- 

^ Psalm Ixxiii. 33. 



280 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

self, that we may be grateful, humble, and godly, for Thou 
art our salvation, our courage, and our strength. 



CHAPTER IX 
That all things are to be referred to God, as the final end 

" My Son, I must be thy Supreme and final end, if thou 
desirest to be truly happy. Out of such purpose thy affection 
shall be purified, which too often is sinfully bent upon itself 
and upon created things. For if thou seekest thyself in any 
matter, straightway thou wilt fail within thyself and grow 
barren. Therefore refer everything to Me first of all, for 
it is I who gave thee all. So look upon each blessing as 
flowing from the Supreme Good, and thus all things are 
to be attributed to Me as their source. 

2. " From Me the humble apd great, the poor and the 
rich, draw water as from a living fountain, and those who 
serve Me with a free and faithful spirit shall receive grace 
for grace. But he who will glory apart from Me, or will 
be delighted with any good which lieth in himself, shall not 
be established in true joy, nor shall be enlarged in heart, 
but shall be greatly hindered and thrown into tribulation. 
Therefore thou must not ascribe any good to thyself, nor 
look upon virtue as belonging to any man, but ascribe it 
all unto God, without whom man hath nothing. I gave all, 
I will receive all again, and with great strictness require 
I the giving of thanks. 

3. " This is the Truth, and by it the vanity of boasting is 
put to flight. And if heavenly grace and true charity shall 
enter into thee, there shall be no envy, nor straitening of 
the heart, nor shall any self-love take possession of thee. 
For divine charity conquereth all things, and enlargeth all 
the powers of the soul. If thou art truly wise, thou wilt 
rejoice in Me alone, thou wilt hope in Me alone; for there 
is none good but one, that is God^ Who is to be praised 
above all things, and in all things to receive blessing." 

^ Luke zviii. 19. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 281 

CHAPTER X 
That it is sweet to despise the world and to serve God 

Now will I speak again, O my Lord, and hold not my peace ; 
I will say in the ears of my God, my Lord, and my King, 
who is exalted above all, Oh how plentiful is Thy goodness 
which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee!^ But 
what art Thou to those who love Thee? What to 
those who serve Thee with their whole heart? Truly 
unspeakable is the sweetness of the contemplation of 
Thee, which Thou bestowest upon those who love Thee. 
In this most of all Thou hast showed me the sweet- 
ness of Thy charity, that when I was not. Thou madest me, 
and when I wandered far from Thee, Thou broughtest me 
back that I might serve Thee, and commandedst me to love 
Thee. 

2. O Fountain of perpetual love, what shall I say con- 
cerning Thee? How shall I be unmindful of Thee, who 
didst vouchsafe to remember me, even after I pined away 
and perished? Thou hast had mercy beyond all hope upon 
Thy servant, and hast showed Thy grace and friendship be- 
yond all deserving. What reward shall I render Thee for 
this Thy grace? For it is not given unto all to renounce 
this world and its affairs, and to take up a religious life. 
For is it a great thing that I should serve Thee, whom every 
creature ought to serve? It ought not to seem a great 
thing to me to serve Thee; but rather this appeareth to 
me a great and wonderful thing, that Thou vouchsafest to 
receive as Thy servant one so poor and unworthy, and 
to join him unto Thy chosen servants. 

3. Behold all things which I have are Thine, and with 
them I serve Thee. And yet verily it is Thou who servest 
me, rather than I Thee. Behold the heaven and the earth 
which Thou hast created for the service of men ; they are at 
Thy bidding, and perform daily whatsoever Thou dost com- 
mand. Yea, and this is little ; for Thou hast even ordained the 
Angels for the service of man. But it surpasseth even all 
these things, that Thou Thyself didst vouchsafe to minister 

^ Psalm xxxi. 21. 



282 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

unto man, and didst promise that Thou wouldest give Thy- 
self unto him. 

4. What shall I render unto Thee for all these Thy mani- 
fold mercies? Oh that I were able to serve Thee all the 
days of my life ! Oh that even for one day I were enabled 
to do Thee service worthy of Thyself ! For verily Thou 
art worthy of all service, all honour, and praise without end. 
Verily Thou art my God, and I am Thy poor servant, who 
am bound to serve Thee with all my strength, nor ought 
I ever to grow weary of Thy praise. This is my wish, this 
is my exceeding great desire, and whatsoever is lacking to 
me, vouchsafe Thou to supply. 

5. It is great honour, great glory to serve Thee, and to 
despise all for Thy sake. For they shall have great grace 
who of their own will shall submit themselves to Thy most 
holy service. They who for Thy love have cast away every 
carnal delight shall find the sweetest consolation of the Holy 
Ghost. They who enter the narrow way of life for Thy 
Name's sake, and have put away all worldly cares, shall attain 
great liberty of spirit. 

6. Oh grateful and delightsome service of God, whereby 
man is made truly free and holy! Oh sacred condition of 
the religious servant, which maketh man equal to the Angels, 
well-pleasing unto God, terrible to evil spirits, and accept- 
able to all faithful ones ! Oh service to be embraced and 
ever desired, in which the highest good is promised, and 
joy is gained which shall remain for evermore ! 



CHAPTER XI 
That the desires of the heart are to be examined and governed 

" My Son, thou hast still many things to learn, which thou 
hast not well learned yet." 

2. What are they. Lord? 

3. "To place thy desire altogether in subjection to My 
good pleasure, and not to be a lover of thyself, but an 
earnest seeker of My will. Thy desires often excite and 
urge thee forward; but consider with thyself whether thou 
art not more moved for thine own objects than for My honour. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 283 

If it is Myself that thou seekest, thou shalt be well content 
with whatsoever I shall ordain; but if any pursuit of thine 
own lieth hidden within thee, behold it is this which hindereth 
and weigheth thee down. 

4. " Beware, therefore, lest thou strive too earnestly aftec 
some desire which thou hast conceived, without taking coun- 
sel of Me; lest haply it repent thee afterwards, and that dis- 
please thee which before pleased, and for which thou didst 
long as for a great good. For not every affection which 
seemeth good is to be forthwith followed; neither is every 
opposite affection to be immediately avoided. Sometimes it 
is expedient to use restraint even in good desires and wishes, 
lest through importunity thou fall into distraction of mind, 
lest through want of discipline thou become a stumbling- 
block to others, or lest by the resistance of others thou be 
suddenly disturbed and brought to confusion. 

5. " Sometimes, indeed, it is needful to use violence, and 
manfully to strive against the sensual appetite, and not to 
consider what the flesh may or not will ; but rather to strive 
after this, that it may become subject, however unwillingly, 
to the spirit. And for so long it ought to be chastised and 
compelled to undergo slavery, even until it be ready for all 
things, and learn to be contented with little, to be delighted 
with things simple, and never to murmur at any incon- 
venience." 

CHAPTER XII 

Of the inward growth of patience, and of the struggle 
against evil desires 

O Lord God, I see that patience is very necessary unto me; 
for many things in this life fall out contrary. For howso- 
ever I may have contrived for my peace, my life cannot go 
on without strife and trouble. 

2. " Thou speakest truly. My Son. For I will not that 
thou seek such a peace as is without trials, and knoweth no 
adversities; but rather that thou shouldest judge thyself to 
have found peace, when thou art tried with manifold tribu- 
lations, and proved by many adversities. If thou shalt say 
that thou art not able to bear much, how then wilt thou 



284 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

sustain the fire hereafter? Of two evils we should always 
choose the less. Therefore, that thou mayest escape eternal 
torments hereafter, strive on God's behalf to endure present 
evils bravely. Thinkest thou that the children of this world 
suffer nought, or but little? Thou wilt not find it so, even 
though thou find out the most prosperous. 

3. " * But,' thou wilt say, ' they have many delights, and 
they follow their own wills, and thus they bear lightly their 
tribulations.' 

4. " Be it so, grant that they have what they list ; but how 
long, thinkest thou, will it last? Behold, like the smoke 
those who are rich in this world will pass away, and no 
record shall remain of their past joys. Yea, even while they 
yet live, they rest not without bitterness and weariness and 
fear. For from the very same thing wherein they find 
delight, thence they oftentimes have the punishment of sor- 
row. Justly it befalleth them, that because out of measure 
they seek out and pursue pleasures, they enjoy them not 
without confusion and bitterness. Oh how short, how false, 
how inordinate and wicked are all these pleasures ! Yet 
because of their sottishness and blindness men do not under- 
stand; but like brute beasts, for the sake of a little pleasure 
of this corruptible life, they incur death of the soul. Thou 
therefore, my son, go not after thy lusts, but refrain thyself 
from thine appetites.^ Delight thou in the Lord, and He 
shall give thee thy heart's desire' 

5. " For if thou wilt truly find delight, and be abundantly 
comforted of Me, behold in the contempt of all worldly 
things and in the avoidance of all worthless pleasures shall 
be thy blessing, and fulness of consolation shall be given thee. 
And the more thou withdrawest thyself from all solace of 
creatures, the more sweet and powerful consolations shalt 
thou find. But at the first thou shalt not attain to them, 
without some sorrow and hard striving. Long-accustomed 
habit will oppose, but it shall be overcome by better habit. 
The flesh will murmur again and again, but will be restrained 
by fervour of spirit. The old serpent will urge and embitter 
thee, but will be put to flight by prayer; moreover; by use- 
ful labour his entrance will be greatly obstructed." 

* Ecclesiastes xviii. 30. * Psalm xxxviL 4. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 285 



CHAPTER XIII 

Of the obedience of one in lowly subjection after the 
example of Jesus Christ 

" My Son, he who striveth to withdraw himself from obedi- 
ence, withdraweth himself also from grace, and he who 
seeketh private advantages, loseth those which are common 
unto all. If a man submit not freely and willingly to one 
set over him, it is a sign that his flesh is not yet perfectly 
subject to himself, but often resisteth and murmureth. 
Learn therefore quickly to submit thyself to him who is 
over thee, if thou seekest to bring thine own flesh into sub- 
jection. For the outward enemy is very quickly overcome 
if the inner man have not been laid low. There is no more 
grievous and deadly enemy to the soul than thou art to 
thyself, if thou art not led by the Spirit. Thou must not 
altogether conceive contempt for thyself, if thou wilt pre- 
vail against flesh and blood. Because as yet thou inordi- 
nately lovest thyself, therefore thou shrinkest from yielding 
thyself to the will of others. 

2. " But what great thing is it that thou, who art dust 
and nothingness, yieldest thyself to man for God's sake, 
when I, the Almighty and the Most High, who created all 
things out of nothing, subjected Myself to man for thy sake? 
I became the most humble and despised of men, that by My 
humility thou mightest overcome thy pride. Learn to obey, 
O dust ! Learn to humble thyself, O earth and clay, and to 
bow thyself beneath the feet of all. Learn to crush thy 
passions, and to yield thyself in all subjection. 

3. " Be zealous against thyself, nor suffer pride to live 
within thee, but so show thyself subject and of no reputation, 
that all may be able to walk over thee, and tread thee down 
as the clay in the streets. What hast thou, O foolish man, 
of which to complain? What, O vile sinner, canst thou 
answer those who speak against thee, seeing thou hast so 
often offended God, and many a time hast deserved hell? 
But Mine eye hath spared thee, because thy sovil was 
precious in My sight; that thou mightest know My love, 
and mightest be thankful for My benefits; and that thou 



286 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

mightest give thyself altogether to true subjection and 
humility, and patiently bear the contempt which thou 
meritest." 



CHAPTER XIV 

Of meditation upon the bidden judgments of God, that we may 
not be lifted up because of our well-doing 

Thou sendest forth Thy judgments against me, O Lord, and 
shakest all my bones with fear and trembling, and my soul 
trembleth exceedingly. I stand astonished, and remember 
that the heavens are not clean in thy sights If Thou 
charge St Thine angels with folly, and didst spare them not, 
how shall it be unto me? Stars have fallen from heaven, 
and what shall I dare who am but dust ? They whose works 
seemed to be praiseworthy, fell into the lowest depths, and 
they who did eat Angels' food, them have I seen delighted 
with the husks that the swine do eat. 

2. There is therefore no holiness, if Thou O Lord, with- 
draw Thine hand. No wisdom profiteth, if Thou leave oflf 
to guide the helm. No strength availeth, if Thou cease to 
preserve. No purity is secure, if Thou protect it not. No 
self-keeping availeth, if Thy holy watching be not there. 
For when we are left alone we are swallowed up and perish, 
but when we are visited, we are raised up, and we live. For 
indeed we are unstable, but are made strong through Thee; 
we grow cold, but are rekindled by Thee. 

3. Oh, how humbly and abjectly must I reckon of myself, 
how must I weigh it as nothing, if I seem to have nothing 
good ! Oh, how profoundly ought I to submit myself to 
Thy unfathomable judgments, O Lord, when I find myself 
nothing else save nothing, and again nothing! Oh weight 
unmeasurable, oh ocean which cannot be crossed over, where 
I find nothing of myself save nothing altogether ! Where, 
then, is the hiding-place of glory, where the confidence be- 
gotten of virtue? All vain-glory is swallowed up in the 
depths of Thy judgments against me. 

4. What is all flesh in Thy sight ? For how shall the clay 

^Job XV. 15. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 287 

boast against Him that fashioned itf How can he be lifted 
up in vain speech whose heart is subjected in truth to God? 
The whole world shall not lift him up whom Truth hath 
subdued; nor shall he be moved by the mouth of all who 
praise him, who hath placed all his hope in God. For they 
themselves who speak, behold, they are all nothing; for they 
shall cease with the sound of their words, but the truth of 
the Lord endureth for ever.' 



CHAPTER XV 
How we must stand and speak, in everything that we desire 

" My Son, speak thou thus in every matter, ' Lord, if it 
please Thee, let this come to pass. Lord, if this shall be for 
Thine honour, let it be done in Thy Name. Lord, if thou see 
it good for me, and approve it as useful, then grant me to 
use it for Thy honour. But if thou knowest that it shall be 
hurtful unto me, and not profitable for the health of my soul, 
take the desire away from me ' ! For not every desire is 
from the Holy Ghost, although it appear to a man right 
and good. It is difficult to judge with certainty whether a 
good or an evil spirit move thee to desire this or that, or 
whether thou art moved by thine own spirit. Many have 
been deceived at the last, who seemed at the beginning to 
be moved by a good spirit. 

2. "Therefore, whatsoever seemeth to thee desirable, thou 
must always desire and seek after it with the fear of God 
and humility of heart, and most of all, must altogether re- 
sign thyself, and commit all unto Me and say, ' Lord, thou 
knowest what is best; let this or that be, according as Thou 
wilt. Give what Thou wilt, so much as Thou wilt, when 
Thou wilt. Do with me as Thou knowest best, and as best 
shall please Thee, and as shall be most to Thine honour. 
Place me where Thou wilt, and freely work Thy will with 
me in all things. I am in Thine hand, and turn me in my 
course. Behold, I am Thy servant, ready for all things; for 
I desire to live not to myself but to Thee. Oh, that I might 
live worthily and perfectly.' " 

' Psalm xxix. i6. ' Psalm cxvii. 2. 



288 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

A PRAYER TO BE ENABLED TO DO GOD's WILL PERFECTLY 

3. Grant me Thy grace, most merciful Jesus, that it may 
be with me, and work in me, and persevere with me, even 
unto the end. Grant that I may ever desire and wish what- 
soever is most pleasing and dear unto Thee. Let Thy will 
be mine, and let my will alway follow Thine, and entirely 
accord with it. May I choose and reject whatsoever Thou 
dost; yea, let it be impossible for me to choose or reject 
except according to Thy will. 

4. Grant that I may die to all worldly things, and for Thy 
sake love to be despised and unknown in this world. Grant 
unto me, above all things that I can desire, to rest in Thee, 
and that in Thee my heart may be at peace. Thou art the 
true peace of the heart. Thou alone its rest ; apart from Thee 
all things are hard and unquiet. In Thee alone, the supreme 
and eternal Good, / will lay me down in peace and take my 
rest.^ Amen. 

CHAPTER XVI 
That true solace is to be sought in God alone 

Whatsoever I am able to desire or to think of for my solace, 
I look for it not here, but hereafter. For if I alone had all 
the solaces of this world, and were able to enjoy all its de- 
lights, it is certain that they could not endure long. Where- 
fore, O my soul, thou canst be fully comforted and perfectly 
refreshed, only in God, the Comforter of the poor, and the 
lifter up of the humble. Wait but a little while, my soul, 
wait for the Divine promise, and thou shalt have abundance 
of all good things in heaven. If thou longest too inordi- 
nately for the things which are now, thou shalt lose those 
which are eternal and heavenly. Let temporal things be in 
the use, eternal things in the desire. Thou canst not be 
satisfied with any temporal good, for thou wast not created 
for the enjoyment of these. 

2. Although thou hadst all the good things which ever 
were created, yet couldst not thou be happy and blessed; all 
thy blessedness and thy felicity lieth in God who created all 
^ Psalm iv. 9. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 289 

things; not such feHcity as seemeth good to the foolish 
lover of the world, but such as Christ's good and faithful 
servants wait for, and as the spiritual and pure in heart 
sometimes taste, whose conversation is in heaven} All hu- 
man solace is empty and short-lived ; blessed and true is that 
solace which is felt inwardly, springing from the truth. The 
godly man everywhere beareth about with him his own 
Comforter, Jesus, and saith unto Him : " Be with me. Lord 
Jesus, always and everywhere. Let it be my comfort to be 
able to give up cheerfully all human comfort. And if Thy 
consolation fail me, let Thy will and righteous approval be 
alway with me for the highest comfort. For Thou wilt not 
always be chiding, neither keepest Thou Thine anger for 
ever.'" 

CHAPTER XVII 
That all care is to be cast upon God 

" My Son, suffer me to do with thee what I will ; I know 
what is expedient for thee. Thou thinkest as a man, in 
many things thou judgest as human affection persuadeth 
thee." 

2. Lord, what Thou sayest is true. Greater is Thy care 
for me than all the care which I am able to take for myself. 
For too insecurely doth he stand who casteth not all his care 
upon Thee. Lord, so long as my will standeth right and 
firm in Thee, do with me what Thou wilt, for whatsoever 
Thou shalt do with me cannot be aught but good. Blessed 
be Thou if Thou wilt leave me in darkness: blessed also 
be Thou if Thou wilt leave me in light. Blessed be Thou 
if Thou vouchsafe to comfort me, and always blessed be 
Thou if Thou cause me to be troubled. 

3. " My Son ! even thus thou must stand if thou desirest 
to walk with Me. Thou must be ready alike for suffering 
or rejoicing. Thou must be poor and needy as willingly as 
full and rich." 

4. Lord, I will willingly bear for Thee whatsoever Thou 
wilt have to come upon me. Without choice I will receive 
from Thy hand good and evil, sweet and bitter, joy and sad- 

^ Philippians iii. 20. ^ Psalm cii. 9. 

10 — HC VU 



290 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

ness, and will give Thee thanks for all things which shall 
happen unto me. Keep me from all sin, and I will not fear 
death nor hell. Only cast me not away for ever, nor blot 
me out of the book of life. Then no tribulation which shall 
come upon me shall do me hurt. 

CHAPTER XVIII 

That temporal miseries are to be borne patiently after 
the example of Christ 

" My Son ! I came down from heaven for thy salvation ; I 
took upon Me thy miseries not of necessity, but drawn by love 
that thou mightest learn patience and mightest bear temporal 
miseries without murmuring. For from the hour of My 
birth, until My death upon the Cross, I ceased not from 
bearing of sorrow; I had much lack of temporal things; I 
oftentimes heard many reproaches against Myself; I gently 
bore contradictions and hard words; I received ingratitude 
for benefits, blasphemies for My miracles, rebukes for My 
doctrine." 

2. Lord, because Thou wast patient in Thy life, herein 
most of all fulfilling the commandment of Thy Father, it is 
well that I, miserable sinner, should patiently bear myself 
according to Thy will, and as long as Thou wilt have it so, 
should bear about with me for my salvation, the burden of 
this corruptible life. For although the present life seemeth 
burdensome, it is nevertheless already made very full of 
merit through Thy grace, and to those who are weak it be- 
cometh easier and brighter through Thy example and the 
footsteps of Thy saints; but it is also much more full 
of consolation than it was of old, under the old Testament, 
when the gate of heaven remained shut; and even the way 
to heaven seemed more obscure when so few cared to seek 
after the heavenly kingdom. But not even those who were 
then just and in the way of salvation were able, before Thy 
Passion and the ransom of Thy holy Death, to enter the 
kingdom of heaven. 

3. Oh what great thanks am I boimd to give Thee, who 
hast vouchsafed to show me and all faithful people the good 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 291 

and right way to Thine eternal kingdom, for Thy way is 
our way, and by holy patience we walk to Thee who art 
our Crown. If Thou hadst not gone before and taught us, 
who would care to follow? Oh, how far would they have 
gone backward if they had not beheld Thy glorious example ! 
Behold we are still lukewarm, though we have heard of Thy 
many signs and discourses; what would become of us if we 
had not such a Hght to help us follow Thee? 



CHAPTER XIX 

Of bearing injuries, and who shall be approved 
as truly patient 

** What sayest thou, My Son ? Cease to complain ; consider 
My suffering and that of My saints. Thou hast not yet re- 
sisted unto blood.^ It is little which thou sufferest in com- 
parison with those who have suffered so many things, have 
been so strongly tempted, so grievously troubled, so many- 
wise proved and tried. Thou oughtest therefore to call to 
mind the more grievous sufferings of others that thou 
mightest bear thy lesser ones more easily, and if they seem 
not to thee little, see that it is not thy impatience which is 
the cause of this. But whether they be little or whether they 
be great, study to bear them all with patience. 

2. " So far as thou settest thyself to bear patiently, so 
far thou dost wisely and art deserving of the more merit; 
thou shalt also bear the more easily if thy mind and habit 
are carefully trained hereunto. And say not * I cannot bear 
these things from such a man, nor are things of this kind 
to be borne by me, for he hath done me grievous harm and 
imputeth to me what I had never thought : but from another 
I will suffer patiently, such things as I see I ought to suffer.' 
Foolish is such a thought as this, for it considereth not the 
virtue of patience, nor by whom that virtue is to be crowned, 
but it rather weigheth persons and offences against self. 

3. " He is not truly patient who will only suffer as far as 
seemeth right to himself and from whom he pleaseth. But 
the truly patient man considereth not by what man he is 

* Hebrews xii. 4. 



292 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

tried, whether by one above him, or by an equal or infe«or, 
whether by a good and holy man, or a perverse and un- 
worthy ; but indifferently from every creature, whatsoever or 
how often soever adversity happeneth to him, he gratefully 
accepteth all from the hand of God and counteth it great 
gain: for with God nothing which is borne for His sake, 
however small, shall lose its reward. 

4, " Be thou therefore ready for the fight if thou wilt 
have the victory. Without striving thou canst not win the 
crown of patience; if thou wilt not suffer thou refusest to 
be crowned. But if thou desirest to be crowned, strive man- 
fully, endure patiently. Without labour thou drawest not 
near to rest, nor without fighting comest thou to victory." 

5. Make possible to me, O Lord, by grace what seemeth 
impossible to me by nature. Thou knowest how little I am 
able to bear, and how quickly I am cast down when a like 
adversity riseth up against me. Whatsoever trial of tribula- 
tion may come to me, may it become unto me pleasing and 
acceptable, for to suffer and be vexed for Thy sake is ex- 
ceeding healthful to the soul. 



CHAPTER XX 
Of confession of our infirmity and of the miseries of this life 

/ WILL acknowledge my sin unto Thee;^ I will confess to 
Thee, Lord, my infirmity. It is often a small thing which 
casteth me down and maketh me sad. I resolve that I will 
act bravely, but when a little temptation cometh, immediately 
I am in a great strait. Wonderfully small sometimes is 
the matter whence a grievous temptation cometh, and whilst 
I imagine myself safe for a little space; when I am not 
considering, I find myself often almost overcome by a little 
puff of wind. 

2. Behold, therefore, O Lord, my humility and my frailty, 
which is altogether known to Thee. Be merciful unto me, 
and draiv me out of the mire that I sink not* lest I ever re- 
main cast down. This is what frequently throweth me back- 
ward and confoundeth me before Thee, that I am so liable 

^ Psalm xxxii. 5. =" Psalm lix. 16. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 293 

to fall, so weak to resist my passions. And though their 
assault is not altogether according to my will, it is violent 
and grievous, and it altogether wearieth me to live thus 
daily in conflict. Herein is my infirmity made known to me, 
that hateful fancies always rush in far more easily than 
they depart. 

3. Oh that Thou, most mighty God of Israel, Lover of all 
faithful souls, wouldst look upon the labour and sorrow of 
Thy servant, and give him help in all things whereunto he 
striveth. Strengthen me with heavenly fortitude, lest the 
old man, this miserable flesh, not being yet fully subdued to 
the spirit, prevail to rule over me ; against which I ought to 
strive so long as I remain in this most miserable life. Oh 
what a life is this, where tribulations and miseries cease 
not, where all things are full of snares and of enemies, for 
when one tribulation or temptation goeth, another cometh, 
yea, while the former conflict is yet raging others come more 
in number and unexpected. 

4. And how can the life of man be loved, seeing that it 
hath so many bitter things, that it is subjected to so many 
calamities and miseries. How can it be even called life, 
when it produces so many deaths and plagues? The 
world is often reproached because it is deceitful and 
vain, yet notwithstanding it is not easily given up, 
because the lusts of the flesh have too much rule over 
it. Some draw us to love, some to hate. The lust of the 
flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, these draw 
to love of the world; but the punishments and miseries which 
righteously follow these things, bring forth hatred of the 
world and weariness. 

5. But, alas ! an evil desire conquereth a mind given to the 
world, and thinketh it happiness to be under the nettles^ be- 
cause it savoureth not nor perceiveth the sweetness of God 
nor the inward gracefulness of virtue. But they who per- 
fectly despise the world and strive to live unto God in holy 
discipline, these are not ignorant of the divine sweetness 
promised to all who truly deny themselves and see clearly 
how grievously the world erreth, and in how many ways it 
is deceived. 

* Job XXX. 7. 



294 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

CHAPTER XXI 
That we must rest in God above all goods and gifts 

Above all things and in all things thou shalt rest alway in 
the Lord, O my soul, for he himself is the eternal rest of 
the saints. Grant me, most sweet and loving Jesus, to rest 
in Thee above every creature, above all health and beauty, 
above all glory and honour, above all povv^er and dignity, 
above all knowledge and skilfulness, above all riches and 
arts, above all joy and exultation, above all fame and praise, 
above all sweetness and consolation, above all hope and 
promise, above all merit and desire, above all gifts and re- 
wards which Thou canst give and pour forth, above all joy 
and jubilation which the mind is able to receive and feel; in 
a word, above Angels and Archangels and all the army of 
heaven, above all things visible and invisible, and above 
everything which Thou, O my God, art not. 

2. For Thou, O Lord, my God, art best above all things; 
Thou only art the Most High, Thou only the Almighty, Thou 
only the All-sufficient, and the Fulness of all things; Thou 
only the All-delightsome and the All-comforting ; Thou alone 
the altogether lovely and altogether loving; Thou alone the 
Most Exalted and Most Glorious above all things ; in Whom 
all things are, and were, and ever shall be, altogether and 
all-perfect. And thus it falleth short and is insufficient 
whatsoever Thou givest to me without Thyself or whatso- 
ever Thou revealest or dost promise concerning Thyself, 
whilst Thou art not seen or fully possessed: since verily my 
heart cannot truly rest nor be entirely content, except it 
rest in Thee, and go beyond all gifts and every creature. 

3. O my most beloved Spouse, Jesus Christ, most holy 
lover of my soul. Ruler of this whole Creation, who shall 
give me the wings of true liberty, that I may flee to Thee and 
find rest? Oh when shall it be given me to be open to 
receive Thee to the full, and to see how sweet Thou art, 
O Lord my God? When shall I collect myself altogether 
in Thee, that because of Thy love I may not feel myself 
at all, but may know Thee only above every sense and 
measure, in measure not known to others. But now I oft- 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 295 

times groan, and bear my sad estate with sorrow; because 
many evils befall me in this vale of miseries which con- 
tinually disturb and fill me with sorrow, and encloud me, 
continually hinder and fill me with care, allure and entangle 
me, that I cannot have free access to Thee, nor enjoy that 
sweet intercourse which is always near at hand to the blessed 
spirits. Let my deep sighing come before Thee, and my 
manifold desolation on the earth. 

4. O Jesus, Light of Eternal Glory, solace of the wander- 
ing soul, before Thee my mouth is without speech, and my 
silence speaketh to Thee. How long will my Lord delay 
to come unto me? Let Him come unto me. His poor and 
humble one, and make me glad. Let Him put forth His 
hand, and deliver His holy one from every snare. Come, 
Oh come; for without Thee shall be no joyful day or hour, 
for Thou art my joy, and without Thee is my table empty. 
I am miserable, and in a manner imprisoned and loaded 
with fetters, until Thou refresh me by the light of Thy 
presence, and give me liberty, and show Thy loving coun- 
tenance. 

5. Let others seek some other thing instead of Thee, what- 
soever it shall please them; but for my part nothing else 
pleaseth or shall please, save Thou, my God, my hope, my 
eternal salvation. I will not hold my peace, nor cease to 
implore, until Thy grace return, and until Thou speak to 
me within. 

6. "Behold, here I am! Behold, -I come to thee, for thou 
didst call Me. Thy tears and the longing of thy soul, thy 
humbleness and contrition of heart have inclined Me, and 
brought Me to thee." 

7. And I said Lord, I have called upon Thee, and I have 
longed to enjoy Thee, being ready to reject everything for 
Thy sake. For Thou didst first move me to seek Thee. 
Therefore, blessed be Thou, O Lord, who has wrought this 
good work upon Thy servant, according to the multitude of 
Thy mercy. What then hath Thy servant to say in Thy 
presence, save to humble himself greatly before Thee, being 
alway mindful of his own iniquity and vileness. For there 
is none like unto Thee in all marvels of heaven and earth. 
Excellent are Thy works, true are Thy judgments, and by 



296 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

Thy Providence are all things governed. Therefore praise 
and glory be unto Thee, O Wisdom of the Father, let my 
mouth and my soul and all created things praise and bless 
Thee together. 

CHAPTER XXII 
Of the recollection of God's manifold benefits 

Open, O Lord, my heart in Thy law, and teach me to walk 
in the way of Thy commandments. Grant me to understand 
Thy will and to be mindful of Thy benefits, both general and 
special, with great reverence and diligent meditation, that 
thus I may be able worthily to give Thee thanks. Yet I 
know and confess, that I cannot render Thee due praises 
for the least of Thy mercies. I am less than the least of 
all the good things which Thou gavest me ; and when I 
consider Thy majesty, my spirit faileth because of the great- 
ness thereof. 

2. All things which we have in the soul and in the body, 
and whatsoever things we possess, whether outwardly or 
inwardly, naturally or supernaturally, are Thy good gifts, 
and prove Thee, from whom we have received them all, to 
be good, gentle, and kind. Although one receiveth many 
things, and another fewer, yet all are Thine, and without 
Thee not even the least thing can be possessed. He who 
hath received greater cannot boast that it is of his own 
merit, nor lift himself up above others, nor contemn those 
beneath him; for he is the greater and the better who 
ascribeth least to himself, and in giving thanks is the humbler 
and more devout; and he who holdeth himself to be viler 
than all, and judgeth himself to be the more unworthy, is 
the apter for receiving greater things. 

3. But he who hath received fewer gifts, ought not to be 
cast down, nor to take it amiss, nor to envy him who is 
richer ; but rather ought he to look unto Thee, and to greatly 
extol Thy goodness, for Thou pourest forth Thy gifts so 
richly, so freely and largely, without respect of persons. All 
things come of Thee; therefore in all things shalt thou be 
praised. Thou knowest what is best to be given to each; 
and why this man hath less, and that more, is not for us 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 297 

but for Thee to understand, for unto Thee each man's 
deservings are fully known. 

4. Wherefore, O Lord God, I reckon it even a great benefit, 
not to have many things, whence praise and glory may ap- 
pear outwardly, and after the thought of men. For so it 
is that he who considereth his own poverty and vileness, 
ought not only to draw therefrom no grief or sorrow, or 
sadness of spirit, but rather comfort and cheerfulness; be- 
cause Thou, Lord, hast chosen the poor and humble, and 
those who are poor in this world, to be Thy friends and 
acquaintance. So give all Thine apostles witness whom 
Thou hast made princes in all lands. Yet they had their con- 
versation in this world blameless, so humble and meek, with- 
out any malice or deceit, that they even rejoiced to puffer 
rebukes for Thy Name's sake^ and what things the world 
hateth, they embraced with great joy. 

5. Therefore ought nothing so much to rejoice him who 
loveth Thee and knoweth Thy benefits, as Thy will in him, 
and the good pleasure of Thine eternal Providence, where- 
with he ought to be so contented and comforted, that he 
would as willingly be the least as any other would be the 
greatest, as peaceable and contented in the lowest as in the 
highest place, and as willingly held of small and low account 
and of no name or reputation as to be more honourable and 
greater in the world than others. For Thy will and the 
love of Thine honour ought to go before all things, and to 
please and comfort him more, than all benefits that are given 
or may be given to himself. 



CHAPTER XXIII 
Of four things which bring great peace 

" My Son, now will I teach thee the way of peace and of 
true liberty." 

2. Do, O my Lord, as Thou sayest, for this is pleasing unto 
me to hear. 

3. " Strive, My Son, to do another's will rather than thine 
own. Choose always to have less rather than more. Seek 

^Acts V. 41. 



296 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

always after the lowest place, and to be subject to all. Wish 
always and pray that the will of God be fulfilled in thee. Be- 
hold, such a man as this entereth into the inheritance of 
peace and quietness." 

4. O my Lord, this Thy short discourse hath in itself much 
of perfectness. It is short in words but full of meaning, and 
abundant in fruit. For if it were possible that I should 
fully keep it, disturbance would not so easily arise within 
me. For as often as I feel myself disquieted and weighed 
down, I find myself to have gone back from this teaching. 
But Thou, Who art Almighty, and always lovest progress in 
the soul, vouchsafe more grace, that I may be enabled to ful- 
fil Thy exhortation, and work out my salvation. 

A PRAYER AGAINST EVIL THOUGHTS 

5. Lord my God, he not Thou far from me, my God, 
haste Thee to help me^ for many thoughts and great fears 
have risen up against me, afflicting my soul. How shall 
I pass through them unhurt? how shall I break through 
them? 

6. "I," saith He, "will go before thee, and make the crooked 
places straight."^ I will open the prison doors, and reveal to 
thee the secret places. 

7. Do, Lord, as Thou sayest; and let all evil thoughts fly 
away before Thy face. This is my hope and my only com- 
fort, to fly unto Thee in all tribulation, to hope in Thee, to 
call upon Thee from my heart and patiently wait for Thy 
loving kindness. 

A PRAYER FOR ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE MIND 

8. Enlighten me. Blessed Jesus, with the brightness of Thy 
inner light, and cast forth all darkness from the habitation 
of my heart Restrain my many wandering thoughts, and 
carry away the temptations which strive to do me hurt. 
Fight Thou mightily for me, and drive forth the evil beasts, 
so call I alluring lusts, that peace may he within Thy walls 
and plenteousness of praise within Thy palaces,^ even in my 
pure conscience. Command Thou the winds and the storms, 

^ Psalm 1x71. tt. * Isvah xlv. 2. * Psalm cxxii. 7, 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 299 

say unto the sea, " Be still," say unto the stormy wind, " Hold 
thy peace," so shall there be a great calm. 

9. Oh send forth Thy light and Thy truth* that they may 
shine upon the earth; for I am but earth without form and 
void until Thou give me light. Pour forth Thy grace from 
above ; water my heart with the dew of heaven ; give the 
waters of devotion to water the face of the earth, and cause 
it to bring forth good and perfect fruit. Lift up my mind 
which is oppressed with the weight of sins, and raise my 
whole desire to heavenly things; that having tasted the 
sweetness of the happiness which is from above, it may take 
no pleasure in thinking of things of earth. 

10. Draw me and deliver me from every unstable comfort 
of creatures, for no created thing is able to satisfy my desire 
and to give me comfort. Join me to Thyself by the insepar- 
able bond of love, for Thou alone art sufficient to him that 
loveth Thee, and without Thee all things are vain toys. 



CHAPTER XXIV 
Of avoiding of curious inquiry into the life of another 

" My Son, be not curious, nor trouble thyself with vain cares. 
What is that to thee? Follow thou Me^ For what is it to 
thee whether a man be this or that, or say or do thus or 
thus? Thou hast no need to answer for others, but thou 
must give an answer for thyself. Why therefore dost thou 
entangle thyself? Behold, I know all men, and I behold 
all things which are done under the sun; and I know how 
it standeth with each one, what he thinketh, what he willeth, 
and to what end his thoughts reach. All things therefore 
are to be committed to Me; watch thou thyself in godly 
peace, and leave him who is unquiet to be unquiet as he 
will. Whatsoever he shall do or say, shall come unto him, 
for he cannot deceive Me. 

2. " Trouble not thyself about the shadow of a great name, 
nor about the friendship of many, nor about the love of men 
towards thee. For these things beget distraction and great 
sorrows of heart. My word should speak freely unto thee, 

* Psalm xliii. 3. ^ John xxi. 12. 



300 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

and I would reveal secrets, if only thou didst diligently 
look for My appearing, and didst open unto Me the gates 
of thy heart. Be sober and watch unto prayer/ and humble 
thyself in all things." 



CHAPTER XXV 
Wherein firm peace of heart and true profit consist 

" My Son, I have said, Peace I leave with you, My peace I 
give unto you, not as the world giveth give I unto you^ All 
men desire peace, but all do not care for the things which be- 
long unto true peace. My peace is with the humble and lowly 
in heart. Thy peace shall be in much patience. If thou 
heardest Me, and didst follow My voice, thou shouldest 
enjoy much peace." 

2. What then shall I do. Lord? 

3. " In everything take heed to thyself what thou doest, 
and what thou sayest; and direct all thy purpose to this, 
that thou please Me alone, and desire or seek nothing apart 
from Me. But, moreover, judge nothing rashly concerning 
the words or deeds of others, nor meddle with matters which 
are not committed to thee; and it may be that thou shalt 
be disturbed little or rarely. Yet never to feel any disquiet, 
nor to suffer any pain of heart or body, this belongeth not to 
the present life, but is the state of eternal rest. Therefore 
count not thyself to have found true peace, if thou hast 
felt no grief ; nor that then all is well if thou hast no 
adversary; nor that this is perfect if all things fall out ac- 
cording to thy desire. Nor then reckon thyself to be any- 
thing great, or think that thou art specially beloved, if thou 
art in a state of great fervour and sweetness of spirit; for 
not by these things is the true lover of virtue known, nor 
in them doth the profit and perfection of man consist." 

4. In what then, Lord? 

5. " In offering thyself with all thy heart to the Divine 
Will, in not seeking the things which are thine own, whether 
great or small, whether temporal or eternal; so that thou 
remain with the same steady countenance in giving of 

• 1 Peter iv. 7. ^ John xiv. 27. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 301 

thanks between prosperity and adversity, weighing all things 
in an equal balance. If thou be so brave and long-suffering 
in hope that when inward comfort is taken from thee, thou 
even prepare thy heart for the more endurance, and justify 
not thyself, as though thou oughtest not to suffer these heavy 
things, but dost justify Me in all things that I appoint, and 
dost bless My Holy Name, then dost thou walk in the true 
and right way of peace, and shalt have a sure hope that 
thou shalt again behold My face with joy. For if thou 
come to an utter contempt of thyself, know that then thou 
shalt enjoy abundance of peace, as much as is possible where 
thou art but a wayfaring man." 



CHAPTER XXVI 

Of the exaltation of a free spirit, which humble prayer more 
deserveth than doth frequent reading 

Lord, this is the work of a perfect man, never to slacken 
his mind from attention to heavenly things, and among many 
cares to pass along as it were without care, not after the man- 
ner of one indifferent, but rather with the privilege of a free 
mind, cleaving to no creature with inordinate affection, 

2. I beseech Thee, my most merciful Lord God, preserve 
me from the cares of this life, lest I become too much en- 
tangled; from many necessities of the body, lest I be taken 
captive by pleasure; from all obstacles of the spirit, lest I be 
broken and cast down with cares. I say not from those 
things which the vanity of the world goeth about after with 
all eagerness, but from those miseries, which by the uni- 
versal curse of mortality weigh down and hold back the soul 
of thy servant in punishment, that it cannot enter into 
liberty of spirit, so often as it would. 

3. O my God, sweetness unspeakable, turn into bitterness 
all my fleshly consolation, which draweth me away from 
the love of eternal things, and wickedly allureth toward 
itself by setting before me some present delight. Let not, 
O my God, let not flesh and blood prevail over me, let not 
the world and its short glory deceive me, let not the devil 
and his craftiness supplant me. Give me courage to resist, 



302 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

patience to endure, constancy to presevere. Grant, in place 
of all consolations of the world, the most sweet unction of 
Thy Spirit, and in place of carnal love, pour into me the 
love of Thy Name. 

4. Behold, food and drink and clothing, and all the other 
needs appertaining to the support of the body, are burden- 
some to the devout spirit. Grant that I may use such things 
with moderation, and that I be not entangled with inordinate 
affection for them. To cast away all these things is not 
lawful, because nature must be sustained, but to require 
superfluities and things which merely minister delight, the 
holy law forbiddeth; for otherwise the flesh would wax in- 
solent against the spirit. In all these things, I beseech Thee, 
let Thy hand guide and teach me, that I in no way exceed. 



CHAPTER XXVII 
That personal love greatly hindereth from the highest good 

" My Son, thou must give all for all, and be nothing of 
thine own. Know thou that the love of thyself is more 
hurtful to thee than anything in the world. According to 
the love and inclination which thou hast, everything more 
or less cleaveth to thee. If thy love be pure, sincere, well- 
regulated, thou shalt not be in captivity to anything. Do 
not covet what thou mayest not have; do not have what is 
able to hinder thee, and to rob thee of inward liberty. It 
is wonderful that thou committest not thyself to Me from 
the very bottom of thy heart, with all things which thou 
canst desire or have. 

2. "Why art thou consumed with vain sorrow? Why art 
thou wearied with superfluous cares? Stand thou by My 
good pleasure, and thou shalt suffer no loss. If thou seekest 
after this or that, and wilt be here or there, according to 
thine own advantage or the fulfilling of thine own pleasure, 
thou shalt never be in quiet, nor free from care, because 
in everything somewhat will be found lacking, and every- 
where there will be somebody who opposeth thee. 

3. "Therefore it is not gaining or multiplying of this 
thing or that which advantageth thee, but rather the despis- 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 303 

ing it and cutting it by the root out of thy heart ; which thou 
must not only understand of money and riches, but of the 
desire after honour and vain praise, things which all pass 
away with the world. The place availeth little if the spirit 
of devotion is wanting; nor shall that peace stand long 
which is sought from abroad, if the state of thy heart is 
without the true foundation, that is, if it abide not in Me. 
Thou mayest change, but thou canst not better thyself; for 
when occasion ariseth and is accepted thou shalt find what 
thou didst fly from, yea more." 

A PRAYER FOR CLEANSING OF THE HEART AND FOR HEAVENLY WISDOM 

4. Strengthen me, O God, by the grace of Thy Holy Spirit. 
Give me virtue to be strengthened with might in the inner 
man, and to free my heart from all fruitless care and 
trouble, and that I be not drawn away by various desires 
after any things whatsoever, whether of little value or great, 
but that I may look upon all as passing away, and myself 
as passing away with them; because there is no profit under 
the sun, and all is vanity and vexation of spirit^ Oh how 
wise is he that considereth thus ! 

5. Give me, O Lord, heavenly wisdom, that I may learn 
to seek Thee above all things and to find Thee; to relish 
Thee above all things and to love Thee ; and to understand 
all other things, even as they are, according to the order 
of Thy wisdom. Grant me prudently to avoid the flatterer, 
and patiently to bear with him that opposeth me; for this 
is great wisdom, not to be carried by every wind of words, 
nor to give ear to the wicked flattering Siren; for thus do 
we go safely on in the way we have begun. 



CHAPTER XXVni 

Against the tongues of detractors 

" My Son, take it not sadly to heart, if any think ill of thee, and 
say of thee what thou art unwilling to hear. Thou oughtest to 
think worse of thyself, and to believe no man weaker than thy- 

^ Ecclesiastes ii. ii. 



304 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

self. If thou walkest inwardly, thou wilt not weigh flying 
words above their value. It is no small prudence to keep 
silence in an evil time and to turn inwardly unto Me, and not 
to be troubled by human judgment. 

2. " Let not thy peace depend upon the word of men ; 
for whether they judge well or ill of thee, thou art not 
therefore any other man than thyself. Where is true 
peace or true glory? Is it not in Me? And he who 
seeketh not to please men, nor feareth to displease, shall 
enjoy abundant peace. From inordinate love and vain 
fear ariseth all disquietude of heart, and all distraction 
of the senses." 



CHAPTER XXIX 
How when tribulation cometh we must call upon and bless God 

Blessed be thy name, O Lord, for evermore, who hast willed 
this temptation and trouble to come upon me. I cannot 
escape it, but have need to flee unto Thee, that Thou mayest 
succour me and turn it unto me for good. Lord, now am I 
in tribulation, and it is not well within my heart, but I am 
sore vexed by the suffering which lieth upon me. And now, 
O dear Father, what shall I say? I am taken among the 
snares. Save me from this hour, hut for this cause came I 
unto this hour^ that Thou mightest be glorified when I am 
deeply humbled and am delivered through Thee. Let it be 
Thy pleasure to deliver me;' for what can I do who am poor, 
and without Thee whither shall I go? Give patience this 
time also. Help me, O Lord my God, and I will not fear 
how much soever I be weighed down. 

2. And now amid these things what shall I say? Lord, 
Thy will be done. I have well deserved to be troubled and 
weighed down. Therefore I ought to bear, would that it be 
with patience, until the tempest be overpast and comfort 
return. Yet is Thine omnipotent arm able also to take this 
temptation away from me, and to lessen its power that I 
fall not utterly under it, even as many a time past thou has 
helped me, O God, my merciful God. And as much as this 

ijohn xii. 37. * Psalm xl. 16. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 305 

deliverance is difficult to me, so much is it easy to Thee, O 
right hand of the most Highest. 



CHAPTER XXX 
Of seeking divine help, and the confidence of obtaining grace 

" My Son, I the Lord am a stronghold in the day of trouble} 
Come unto Me, when it is not well with thee. 

" This it is which chiefly hindereth heavenly consolation, 
that thou too slowly betakest thyself unto prayer. For be- 
fore thou earnestly seekest unto Me, thou dost first seek 
after many means of comfort, and refresheth thyself in out- 
ward things: so it cometh to pass that all things profit thee 
but little until thou learn that it is I who deliver those who 
trust in Me ; neither beside Me is there any strong help, 
nor profitable counsel, nor enduring remedy. But now, re- 
covering courage after the tempest, grow thou strong in the 
light of My mercies, for I am nigh, saith the Lord, that I 
may restore all things not only as they were at the first, but 
also abundantly and one upon another. 

2. " For is anything too hard for Me, or shall I be like 
unto one who saith and doeth not? Where is thy faith? 
Stand fast and with perseverance. Be long-sufifering and 
strong. Consolation will come unto thee in its due season. 
Wait for Me; yea, wait; I will come and heal thee. It is 
temptation which vexeth thee, and a vain fear which terrifieth 
thee. What doth care about future events bring thee, save 
sorrow upon sorrow? Sufficient for the day is the evil there- 
of." It is vain and useless to be disturbed or lifted up about 
future things which perhaps will never come. 

3. " But it is the nature of man to be deceived by fancies 
of this sort, and it is a sign of a mind which is still weak 
to be so easily drawn away at the suggestion of the enemy. 
For he careth not whether he deceive and beguile by true 
means or false; whether he throw thee down by the love of 
the present or fear of the future. Therefore let not thy 
heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Believe in Me, 
and put thy trust in My mercy.* When thou thinkest thy- 

^ Nahum I. y. * Matthew vi. 34. * John xiv. 27; Psalm xiii. 5, 



306 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

self far removed from Me, I am often the nearer. When 
thou reckonest that almost all is lost, then often is greater 
opportunity of gain at hand. All is not lost when something 
goeth contrary to thy wishes. Thou oughtest not to judge 
according to present feeling, nor so to take or give way to 
any grief which befalleth thee, as if all hope of escape were 
taken away. 

4. " Think not thyself totally abandoned, although for the 
time I have sent to thee some tribulation, or have even with- 
drawn some cherished consolation; for this is the way to 
the Kingdom of Heaven. And without doubt it is better 
for thee and for all My other servants, that ye should be 
proved by adversities, than that ye should have all things 
as ye would. I know thy hidden thoughts: and that it is 
very needful for thy soul's health that sometimes thou be 
left without relish, lest perchance thou be lifted up by pros- 
perity, and desirous to please thyself in that which thou art 
not. What I have given I am able to take away, and to 
restore again at My good pleasure. 

5. " When I shall have given, it is Mine ; when I shall 
have taken away, I have not taken what is thine; for every 
good gift and every perfect gift*^ is from me. If I shall 
have sent upon thee grief or any vexation, be not angry, 
nor let thy heart be sad; I am able quickly to lift thee up 
and to change every burden into joy. But I am just and 
greatly to be praised, when I do thus unto thee. 

6. " If thou rightly consider, and look upon it with truth, 
thou oughtest never to be so sadly cast down because of adver- 
sity, but rather shouldst rejoice and give thanks; yea, verily 
to count it the highest joy that I afflict thee with sorrows and 
spare thee not. As My Father hath loved Me, so love I you;' 
thus have I spoken unto My beloved disciples : whom I sent 
forth not unto worldly joys, but to great strivings; not unto 
honours, but unto contempt; not unto ease, but to labours; 
not unto rest, but to bring forth much fruit with patience. 
My son, remember these words." 

* James i. 17. 'John xv. 9. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 307 

CHAPTER XXXI 
Of the neglect of every creature, that the Creator may be found 

O Lord, I still need more grace, if I would arrive where 
neither man nor any other creature may hinder me. For so 
long as anything keepeth me back, I cannot freely fly unto 
Thee. He desired eagerly thus to fly, who cried, saying, 
Oh that I had wings like a dove, for then ufotdd I Hee away 
and he at rest. What is more peaceful than the single eye? 
And what more free than he that desireth nothing upon 
earth? Therefore must a man rise above every creature, 
and perfectly forsake himself, and with abstracted mind 
to stand and behold that Thou, the Creator of all things, 
hast among Thy creatures nothing like unto Thyself. And 
except a man be freed from all creatures, he will not be 
able to reach freely after Divine things. Therefore few 
are found who give themselves to contemplation, because 
few know how to separate themselves entirely from perish- 
ing and created things. 

2. For this much grace is necessary, which may lift up 
the soul and raise it above itself. And except a man be lifted 
up in the spirit, and freed from all creatures, and altogether 
united to God, whatsoever he knoweth, whatsoever even he 
hath, it mattereth but little. He who esteemeth anything 
great save the one only incomprehensible, eternal, good, shall 
long time be little and lie low. For whatsoever is not God 
is nothing, and ought to be counted for nothing. Great is 
the difference between a godly man, illuminated with wis- 
dom, and a scholar learned in knowledge and given to books. 
Far nobler is that doctrine which floweth down from the 
divine fulness above, than that which is acquired laboriously 
by human study. 

3. Many are found who desire contemplation, but they do 
not strive to practice those things which are required there- 
unto. It is also a great impediment, that much is made of 
symbols and external signs, and too little of thorough morti- 
fication. I know not how it is, and by what spirit we are 
led, and what we who would be deemed spiritual are aiming 
at, that we give so great labour and so eager solicitude for 



308 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

transitory and worthless things, and scarcely ever gather our 
senses together to think at all of our inward condition. 

4. Ah, me ! Forthwith after a little recollection we rush 
out of doors, and do not subject our actions to a strict ex- 
amination. Where our affections are set we take no heed, 
and we weep not that all things belonging to us are so 
defiled. For because all flesh had corrupted itself upon the 
earth, the great deluge came. Since therefore our inmost 
affections are very corrupt, it followeth of necessity that our 
actions also are corrupt, being the index of a deficient inward 
strength. Out of a pure heart proceedeth the fruit of good 
living. 

5. We demand, how much a man hath done ; but from how 
much virtue he acted, is not so narrowly considered. We ask 
if he be strong, rich, handsome, clever, whether he is a good 
writer, good singer, good workman; but how poor he may 
be in spirit, how patient and gentle, how devout and medi- 
tative, on these things many are silent. Nature looketh upon 
the outward appearance of a man, grace turneth its thought 
to the heart. The former frequently judgeth amiss; the 
latter trusteth in God, that it may not be deceived. 



CHAPTER XXXII 
Of self-denial and the casting away all selfishness 

" Mv Son, thou canst not possess perfect liberty unless thou 
altogether deny thyself. All they are enslaved who are 
possessors of riches, they who love themselves, the selfish, 
the curious, the restless; those who ever seek after soft 
things, and not after the things of Jesus Christ; those who 
continually plan and devise that which will not stand. For 
whatsoever cometh not of God shall perish. Hold fast the 
short and complete saying, ' Renounce all things, and thou 
shalt find all things; give up thy lust, and thou shalt find 
rest.' Dwell upon this in thy mind, and when thou art full 
of it, thou shalt understand all things." 

2. O Lord, this is not the work of a day, nor children's 
play; verily in this short saying is enclosed all the perfection 
of the religious. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 309 

3. " My son, thou oughtest not to be turned aside, nor 
immediately cast down, because thou hast heard the way of 
the perfect. Rather oughtest thou to be provoked to higher 
aims, and at the least to long after the desire thereof. Oh 
that it were so with thee, and that thou hadst come to 
this, that thou wert not a lover of thine own self, but wert 
ready always to My nod, and to his whom I have placed 
over thee as thy father. Then shouldest thou please Me 
exceedingly, and all thy life should go on in joy and 
peace. Thou hast still many things to renounce, which if 
thou resign not utterly to Me, thou shalt not gain what thou 
seekest. / counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, 
that thou mayest be rich^ that is heavenly wisdom, which 
despiseth all base things. Put away from thee earthly wis- 
dom, and all pleasure, whether common to men, or thine own. 

4. " I tell thee that thou must buy vile things with those 
which are costly and great in the esteem of men. For 
wonderfully vile and small, and almost given up to forget- 
fulness, doth true heavenly wisdom appear, which thinketh 
not high things of itself, nor seeketh to be magnified upon 
the earth; many honour it with their lips, but in heart are 
far from it; it is indeed the precious pearl, which is hidden 
from many." 

CHAPTER XXXIII 

Of instability of the heart, and of directing the aim towards God 

" My Son, trust not thy feeling, for that which is now will 
be quickly changed into somewhat else. As long as thou 
livest thou art subject to change, howsoever unwilling; so 
that thou art found now joyful, now sad; now at peace, now 
disquieted; now devout, now indevout; now studious, now 
careless ; now sad, now cheerful. But the wise man, and 
he who is truly learned in spirit, standeth above these change- 
able things, attentive not to what he may feel in himself, 
or from what quarter the wind may blow, but that the whole 
intent of his mind may carry him on to the due and much- 
desired end. For thus will he be able to remain one and 
the same and unshaken, the single eye of his desire being 

^ Revelation iii. 18. 



310 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

steadfastly fixed, through the manifold changes of the world, 
upon Me. 

2. " But according as the eye of intention be the more 
pure, even so will a man make his way steadfastly through 
the manifold storms. But in many the eye of pure intention 
waxeth dim; for it quickly resteth itself upon anything 
pleasant which occurreth, and rarely is any man found al- 
together free from the blemish of self-seeking. So the Jews 
of old came to Bethany, to the house of Martha and Mary, 
that they might see not Jesus, but Lazarus, whom he had 
raised from the dead.^ Therefore must the eye of the in- 
tention be cleansed, that it may be single and right, and 
above all things which come in its way, may be directed 
unto Me." 

CHAPTER XXXIV 

That to him who loveth God is sweet above all things 
and in all things 

Behold, God is mine, and all things are mine ! What will I 
more, and what more happy thing can I desire? O delight- 
some and sweet world ! that is, to him that loveth the Word, 
not the world, neither the things that are in the zvorld." My 
God, my all ! To him that understandeth, that word suffi- 
ceth, and to repeat it often is pleasing to him that loveth 
it. When Thou art present all things are pleasant; when 
Thou art absent, all things are wearisome. Thou makest 
the heart to be at rest, givest it deep peace and festal joy. 
Thou makest it to think rightly in every matter, and in every 
matter to give Thee praise; neither can anything please 
long without Thee but if it would be pleasant and of sweet 
savour, Thy grace must be there, and it is Thy wisdom which 
must give unto it a sweet savour. 

2. To him who tasteth Thee, what can be distasteful? 
And to him who tasteth Thee not, what is there which can 
make him joyous? But the worldly wise, and they who 
enjoy the flesh, these fail in Thy wisdom ; for in the wisdom 
of the world is found utter vanity, and to be carnally minded 
is death. But they who follow after Thee through contempt 

* John xii. 9. 'i John ii. 15. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 311 

of worldly things, and mortification of the flesh, are found 
to be the truly wise because they are carried from vanity 
to verity, from the flesh to the spirit. They taste that the 
Lord is good, and whatsoever good they find in creatures, 
they count it all unto the praise of the Creator. Unlike, 
yea, very unlike is the enjoyment of the Creator to enjoyment 
of the Creature, the enjoyment of eternity and of time, of light 
uncreated and of light reflected. 

3. O Light everlasting, surpassing all created lights, dart 
down Thy ray from on high which shall pierce the inmost 
depths of my heart. Give purity, joy, clearness, life to my 
spirit that with all its powers it may cleave unto Thee with 
rapture passing man's understanding. Oh when shall that 
blessed and longed-for time come when Thou shalt satisfy 
me with Thy presence, and be unto me All in all? So long 
as this is delayed, my joy shall not be full. Still, ah me ! 
the old man liveth in me: he is not yet all crucified, not yet 
quite dead; still he lusteth fiercely against the spirit, wageth 
inward wars, nor suffereth the soul's kingdom to be in peace. 

4. But Thou zvho rulest the raging of the sea, and stillest the 
waves thereof when they arise, rise up and help me. Scatter 
the people that delight in zvar." Destroy them by Thy power. 
Show forth, I beseech Thee, Thy might, and let Thy right hand 
be glorified, for I have no hope, no refuge, save in Thee, O 
Lord my God. 

CHAPTER XXXV 
That there is no security against temptation in this life 

"My Son, thou art never secure in this life, but thy spiritual 
armour will always be needful for thee as long as thou 
livest. Thou dwellest among foes, and art attacked on the 
right hand and on the left. If therefore thou use not on 
all sides the shield of patience, thou wilt not remain long 
unwounded. Above all, if thou keep not thy heart fixed 
upon Me with steadfast purpose to bear all things for My 
sake, thou shalt not be able to bear the fierceness of the 
attack, nor to attain to the victory of the blessed. There- 
fore must thou struggle bravely all thy life through, and put 

* Psalm Ixviii. 30. 



312 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

forth a strong hand against those things which oppose thee. 
For to him that overcometh is the hidden manna given/ but 
great misery is reserved for the slothful. 

2. " If thou seek rest in this life, how then w^ilt thou attain 
unto the rest which is eternal? Set not thyself to attain 
much rest, but much patience. Seek the true peace, not in 
earth but in heaven, not in man nor in any created thing, 
but in God alone. For the love of God thou must willingly 
undergo all things, whether labours or sorrows, temptations, 
vexations, anxieties, necessities, infirmities, injuries, gain- 
sayings, rebukes, humiliations, confusions, corrections, de- 
spisings; these things help unto virtue, these things prove 
the scholar of Christ; these things fashion the heavenly 
crown. I will give thee an eternal reward for short labour, 
and infinite glory for transient shame. 

3. " Thinkest thou that thou shalt always have spiritual 
consolations at thy will? My Saints had never such, but 
instead thereof manifold griefs, and divers temptations, and 
heavy desolations. But patiently they bore themselves in all, 
and trusted in God more than in themselves, knowing that 
the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be 
compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.' 
Wouldst thou have that immediately which many have 
hardly attained unto after many tears and hard labours? 
Wait for the Lord, quit thyself like a man and be strong; 
be not faint-hearted, nor go aside from Me, but constantly 
devote thy body and soul to the glory of God. I will re- 
ward thee plenteously, / will be with thee in trouble."* 



CHAPTER XXXVI 
Against vain judgments of men 

" My Son, anchor thy soul firmly upon God, and fear not 
man's judgment, when conscience pronounceth thee pious 
and innocent. It is good and blessed thus to suffer; 
nor will it be grievous to the heart which is humble, and 
which trusteth in God more than in itself. Many men have 

^Revelation ii. 17. * Romans viii. 17. * Psalm xci. 15. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 313 

many opinions, and therefore little trust is to be placed in 
them. But moreover it is impossible to please all. Although 
Paul studied to please all men in the Lord, and to be- 
come all things to all men^ yet nevertheless -mth him it 
was a very small thing that he should be judged by man's 
judgment."" 

2. He laboured abundantly, as much as in him lay, for 
the building up and the salvation of others; but he could 
not avoid being sometimes judged and despised by others. 
Therefore he committed all to God, who knew all, and by 
patience and humility defended himself against evil speakers, 
or foolish and false thinkers, and those who accused him ac- 
cording to their pleasure. Nevertheless, from time to time 
he replied, lest his silence should become a stumbling-block 
to those who were weak. 

3. " Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a man 
that shall die? To-day he is, and to-morrow his place is 
not found. Fear God and thou shalt not quail before the 
terrors of men. What can any man do against thee by 
words or deeds? He hurteth himself more than thee, nor 
shall he escape the judgment of God, whosoever he may be. 
Have thou God before thine eyes, and do not contend with 
fretful words. And if for the present thou seem to give 
way, and to suffer confusion which thou hast not deserved, 
be not angry at this, nor by impatience diminish thy reward ; 
but rather look up to Me in heaven, for I am able to deliver 
thee from all confusion and hurt, and to render to every 
man according to his works." 



CHAPTER XXXVH 

Of pure and entire resignation of self, for the obtaining 
liberty of heart 

" My Son, lose thyself and thou shalt find Me. Stand still 
without all choosing and all thought of self, and thou shalt 
ever be a gainer. For more grace shall be added to thee, 
as soon as thou resignest thyself, and so long as thou dost 
not turn back to take thyself again." 

^ I Corinthians ix. 22. * i Corinthians iv. 3. 



314 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

2. O Lord, how often shall I resign myself, and in what 
things shall I lose myself? 

3. " Always ; every hour : in that which is little, and in 
that which is great. I make no exception, but will that thou 
be found naked in all things. Otherwise how canst thou be 
Mine and I thine, unless thou be inwardly and outwardly 
free from every will of thine own? The sooner thou dost 
this, the better shall it be with thee; and the more fully 
and sincerely, the more thou shalt please Me, and the more 
abundantly shalt thou be rewarded. 

4. " Some resign themselves, but with certain reservations, 
for they do not fully trust in God, therefore they think 
that they have some provision to make for themselves. Some 
again at first offer everything; but afterwards being pressed 
by temptation they return to their own devices, and thus 
make no progress in virtue. They will not attain to the 
true liberty of a pure heart, nor to the grace of My sweet 
companionship, unless they first entirely resign themselves 
and daily offer themselves up as a sacrifice ; without this 
the union which bringeth forth fruit standeth not nor will 
stand. 

5. " Many a time I have said unto thee, and now say 
again. Give thyself up, resign thyself, and thou shalt have 
great inward peace. Give all for all; demand nothing, ask 
nothing in return ; stand simply and with no hesitation in 
Me, and thou shalt possess Me. Thou shalt have liberty of 
heart, and the darkness shall not overwhelm thee. For this 
strive thou, pray for it, long after it, that thou mayest be 
delivered from all possession of thyself, and nakedly follow 
Jesus who was made naked for thee; mayest die unto thy- 
self and live eternally to Me. Then shall all vain fancies 
disappear, all evil disturbings, and superfluous cares. Then 
also shall immoderate fear depart from thee, and inordinate 
love shall die." j 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 315 

CHAPTER XXXVIII 

Of a good government in external things, and of having 
recourse to God in dangers 

" My Son, for this thou must diligently make thy endeavour, 
that in every place and outward action or occupation thou 
mayest be free within, and have power over thyself; and 
that all things be under thee, not thou under them; that 
thou be master and ruler of thy actions, not a slave or hire- 
ling, but rather a free and true Hebrew, entering into the 
lot and the liberty of the children of God, who stand above 
the present and look upon the eternal, who with the left 
eye behold things transitory, and with the right things 
heavenly; whom temporal things draw not to cleave unto, 
but who rather draw temporal things to do them good 
service, even as they were ordained of God to do, and 
appointed by the Master Workman, who hath left nought 
in His creation without aim and end. 

2. " And if in any chance of life thou stand not in out- 
ward appearances, nor judgest things which are seen and 
heard by the fleshy sense, but straightway in every cause 
enterest with Moses into the tabernacle to ask counsel of 
God; thou shalt hear a divine response and come forth Ih- 
structed concerning many things that are and shall be. For 
always Moses had recourse to the tabernacle for the solving 
of all doubts and questionings ; and fled to the help of prayer 
to be delivered from the dangers and evil deeds of men. 
Thus also oughtest thou to fly to the secret chamber of thy 
heart, and earnestly implore the divine succour. For this 
cause we read that Joshua and the children of Israel were 
deceived by the Gibeonites, that they asked not counsel at 
the mouth of the Lord^ but being too ready to listen 
to fair speeches, were deceived by pretended piety." 

1 Joshua ix. 14. 



316 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

CHAPTER XXXIX 

That man must not be immersed in business 

" My Son, always commit thy cause to Me ; I will dispose 
it aright in due time. Wait for I^Iy arrangement of it, and 
then thou shalt find it for thy profit." 

2. O Lord, right freely I commit all things to Thee; for 
my planning can profit but little. Oh that I did not dwell 
so much on future events, but could offer myself altogether 
to Thy pleasures without delay. 

3. " My Son, a man often striveth vehemently after some- 
what which he desireth; but when he hath obtained it he be- 
ginneth to be of another mind, because his affections towards 
it are not lasting, but rather rush on from one thing to an- 
other. Therefore it is not really a small thing, when in 
small things we resist self." 

4. The true progress of man lieth in self-denial, and a 
man who denieth himself is free and safe. But the old 
enemy, opposer of all good things, ceaseth not from temp- 
tation; but day and night setteth his wicked snares, if 
haply he may be able to entrap the unwary. Watch and 
pray, saith the Lord, lest ye enter into temptation} 

CHAPTER XL 

That man hath no good in himself, and nothing 
whereof to glory 

LORD, what is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the 
son of man that Thou visit est him?' WHiat hath man de- 
served, that Thou shouldest bestow thy favour upon him? 
Lord, what cause can I have of complaint, if Thou forsake 
me? Or what can I justly allege, if Thou refuse to hear 
my petition? Of a truth, this I may truly think and say, 
Lord, I am nothing, I have nothing that is good of myself, but 
I fall short in all things, and ever tend unto nothing. And 
unless I am helped by Thee and inwardly supported, I be- 
come altogether lukewarm and reckless. 

• Matthew xxvi. 41. • Psalm viii. 4. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 317 

2. But Thou, O Lord, art always the same, and endurest 
for ever, always good, righteous, and holy; doing all things 
well, righteously, and holily, and disposing all in Thy wisdom. 
But I who am more ready to go forward than backward, 
never continue in one stay, because changes sevenfold pass 
over me. Yet it quickly becometh better when it so pleaseth 
Thee, and Thou puttest forth Thy hand to help me; because 
Thou alone canst aid without help of man, and canst so 
strengthen me that my countenance shall be no more changed, 
but my heart shall be turned to Thee, and rest in Thee alone. 

3. Wherefore, if I but knew well how to reject all human 
consolations, whether for the sake of gaining devotion, or 
because of the necessity by which I was compelled to seek 
Thee, seeing there is no man who can comfort me ; then could 
I worthily trust in Thy grace, and rejoice in the gift of 
new consolation. 

4. Thanks be to Thee, from whom all cometh, whenso- 
ever it goeth well with me 1 But I am vanity and nothing 
in Thy sight, a man inconstant and weak. What then have 
I whereof to glory, or why do I long to be held in honour? 
Is it not for nought ? This also is utterly vain. Verily vain 
glory is an evil plague, the greatest of vanities, because it 
draweth us away from the true glory, and robbeth us of 
heavenly grace. For whilst a man pleaseth himself he dis- 
pleaseth Thee ; whilst he gapeth after the praises of man, he 
is deprived of true virtues. 

5. But true glory and holy rejoicing lieth in glorying in 
Thee and not in self; in rejoicing in Thy Name, not in our, 
own virtue ; in not taking delight in any creature, save 
only for Thy sake. Let thy Name, not mine be praised; 
let Thy work, not mine be magnified; let Thy holy Name be 
blessed, but to me let nought be given of the praises of men. 
Thou art my glory, Thou art the joy of my heart. In Thee 
will I make my boast and be glad all the day long, but for 
myself let me not glory save only in my infirmities." 

6. Let the Jews seek the honour which cometh from one 
another; but I will ask for that which cometh from God 
only." Truly all human glory, all temporal honour, all 
worldly exultation, compared to Thy eternal glory, is but 

' 2 Corinthians xii. 5. • John v. 44. 



318 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

vanity and folly. O God my Truth and my Mercy, Blessea 
Trinity, to Thee alone be all praise, honour, power, and glory 
for ever and for ever. Amen. 



CHAPTER XLI 
Of contempt of all temporal honour 

" My Son, make it no matter of thine, if thou see others 
honoured and exalted, and thyself despised and humbled. 
Lift up thine heart to Me in heaven, and then the contempt 
of men upon earth will not make thee sad." 

2. O Lord, we are in blindness, and are quickly seduced 
by vanity. If I look rightly within myself, never was injury 
done unto me by any creature, and therefore I have nought 
whereof to complain before Thee. But because I have many 
times and grievously sinned against Thee, all creatures do 
justly take arms against me. Therefore to me confusion 
and contempt are justly due, but to Thee praise and honour 
and glory. And except I dispose myself for this, namely, to 
be willing that every creature should despise and desert me, 
and that I should be esteemed altogether as nothing, I cannot 
be inwardly filled with peace and strength, nor spiritually 
enlightened, nor fully united to Thee. 



CHAPTER XLII 
That our peace is not to be placed in men 

" My Son, if thou set thy peace on any person because thou 
hast high opinion of him, and art familiar with him, thou 
shalt be unstable and entangled. But if thou betake thyself 
to the ever-living and abiding Truth, the desertion or death 
of a friend shall not make thee sad. In Me ought the love 
of thy friend to subsist, and for My sake is every one to 
be loved, whosoever he be, who appeareth to thee good, and 
is very dear to thee in this life. Without Me friendship 
hath no strength or endurance, neither is that love true 
and pure, which I unite not. Thou oughtest to be so dead 
to such affections of beloved friends, that as far as in thee i 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 319 

Heth, thou wouldst rather choose to be without any com- 
panionship of men. The nearer a man approacheth to God, 
the further he recedeth from all earthly solace. The deeper 
also he descendeth into himself, and the viler he appeareth 
in his own eyes, the higher he ascendeth towards God. 

2. " But he who attributeth anything good to himself, 
hindereth the grace of God from coming to him, because 
the grace of the Holy Ghost ever seeketh the humble heart. 
If thou couldst make thyself utterly nothing, and empty thy- 
self of the love of every creature, then should it be My 
part to overflow unto thee with great grace. When thou 
settest thine eyes upon creatures, the face of the Creator 
is withdrawn from thee. Learn in all things to conquer 
thyself for thy Creator's sake, then shalt thou be able to 
attain unto divine knowledge. How small soever anything 
be, if it be loved and regarded inordinately, it holdeth us 
back from the highest good, and corrupteth," 



CHAPTER XLHI 
Against vain and worldly knowledge 

" My Son, let not the fair and subtle sayings of men move 
thee. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in pozver^ 
Give ear to My words, for they kindle the heart and en- 
lighten the mind, they bring contrition, and they supply 
manifold consolations. Never read thou the word that thou 
mayest appear more learned or wise ; but study for the morti-. 
fication of thy sins, for this will be far more profitable for 
thee than the knowledge of many difficult questions. 

2. " When thou hast read and learned many things, thou 
must always return to one first principle. I am He that 
teacheth man knowledge," and I give imto babes clearer 
knowledge than can be taught by man. He to whom I speak 
will be quickly wise and shall grow much in the spirit. Woe 
unto them who inquire into many curious questions from 
men, and take little heed concerning the way of My service. 
The time will come when Christ will appear, the Master 
of masters, the Lord of the Angels, to hear the lessons of 

^ 1 Corinthians iv. 20. ^ Psalm xeiv. 10. 



320 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

all, that is to examine the consciences of each one. And 
then will He search Jerusalem with candles^ and the hid- 
den things of darkness* shall be made manifest, and the 
arguings of tongues shall be silent. 

3. " I am He who in an instant lift up the humble spirit, 
to learn more reasonings of the Eternal Truth, than if a 
man had studied ten years in the schools. I teach without 
noise of words, without confusion of opinions, without striv- 
ing after honour, without clash of arguments. I am He who 
teach men to despise earthly things, to loathe things present, 
to seek things heavenly, to enjoy things eternal, to flee hon- 
ours, to endure offences, to place all hope in Me, to desire 
nothing apart from Me, and above all things to love Me 
ardently. 

4. " For there was one, who by loving Me from the bot- 
tom of his heart, learned divine things, and spake things 
that were wonderful ; he profited more by forsaking all things 
than by studying subtleties. But to some I speak common 
things, to others special; to some I appear gently in signs 
and figures, and again to some I reveal mysteries in much 
light. The voice of books is one, but it informeth not all 
alike; because I inwardly am the Teacher of truth, the 
Searcher of the heart, the Discerner of the thoughts, the 
Mover of actions, distributing to each man, as I judge meet." 



CHAPTER XLIV 
Of not troubling ourselves about outward things 

" My Son, in many things it behoveth thee to be ignorant, 
and to esteem thyself as one dead upon the earth, and as 
one to whom the whole world is crucified. Many things 
also thou must pass by with deaf ear, and must rather think 
upon those things which belong unto thy peace. It is more 
profitable to turn away thine eyes from those things that 
displease, and to leave each man to his own opinion, than 
to give thyself to discourses of strife. If thou stand well 
with God and hast His judgment in thy mind, thou wilt 
verily easily bear to be as one conquered." 

* Zephaniah L la. * i Corinthians iv. 5. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 321 

2. O Lord, to what have we come? Behold a temporal 
loss is mourned over; for a trifling gain we labour and hurry; 
and spiritual loss passeth away into forgetfulness, and we 
rarely recover it. That which profiteth little or nothing is 
looked after, and that which is altogether necessary is negli- 
gently passed by; because the whole man slideth away to 
outward things, and unless he quickly recovereth himself 
in outward things he willingly lieth down. 



CHAPTER XLV 

That we must not believe everyone, and that we are prone 
to fall in our words 

LORD, he thou my help in trouble, for vain is the help of 
man."- How often have I failed to find faithfulness, where 
I thought I possessed it. How many times I have found it 
where I least expected. Vain therefore is hope in men, but 
the salvation of the just, O God, is in Thee. Blessed be 
thou, O Lord my God, in all things which happen unto us. 
We are weak and unstable, we are quickly deceived and 
quite changed. 

2. Who is the man who is able to keep himself so warily 
and circumspectly as not sometimes to come into some 
snare of perplexity? But he who trusteth in Thee, O Lord, 
and seeketh Thee with an unfeigned heart, doth not so easily 
slip. And if he fall into any tribulation, howsoever he may 
be entangled, yet very quickly he shall be delivered through 
Thee, or by Thee shall be comforted, because Thou wilt not 
forsake him that trusteth in Thee unto the end. A friend 
,who continueth faithful in all the distresses of his friend 
is rare to be found. Thou, O Lord, Thou alone art most 
faithful in all things, and there is none other like unto Thee. 

3. Ofi, how truly wise was that holy soul which said, 
" My mind is steadfastly fixed, and it is grounded in Christ."* 
If thus it were with me, the fear of man should not so easily 
tempt me, nor the arrows of words move me. Who is suffi- 
cient to foresee all things, who to guard beforehand against 
future ills? If even things which are foreseen sometimes 

* Psalm Ix. 11. »St. Agatha. 

II — Hcvn 



322 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

hurt us, what can things which are not foreseen do, but 
grievously injure? But wherefore have I not better pro- 
vided for myself, miserable that I am? Why, too, have I 
given such heed to others? But we are men, nor are we 
other than frail men, even though by many we are 
reckoned and called angels. Whom shall I trust, O Lord, 
whom shall I trust but Thee? Thou art the Truth, and 
deceivest not, nor canst be deceived. And on the other hand, 
Every man is a liar^ weak, unstable and frail, especially in 
his words, so that one ought scarcely ever to believe what 
seemeth to sound right on the face of it. 

4. With what wisdom hast thou warned us beforehand to 
beware of men, and that a man's foes are they of his oxvn 
household* and that we must not believe if one say unto us 
Lo here, or Lo there^ I have been taught by my loss, and O 
that I may prove more careful and not foolish hereby. " Be 
cautious," saith some one : " be cautious, keep unto thyself 
what I tell thee." And whilst I am silent and believe that 
it is hid with me, he himself cannot keep silence concerning 
it, but straightway betrayeth me and himself, and goeth his 
way. Protect me, O Lord, from such mischief -making and 
reckless men; let me not fall into their hands, nor ever do 
such things myself. Put a true and steadfast word into my 
mouth, and remove a deceitful tongue far from me. What 
I would not suffer, I ought by all means to beware of doing. 

5. Oh, how good and peacemaking a thing it is to be silent 
concerning others, and not carelessly to believe all reports, 
nor to hand them on further ; how good also to lay one's self 
open to few, to seek ever to have Thee as the beholder of 
the heart ; not to be carried about with every wind of words, 
but to desire that all things inward and outward be done 
according to the good pleasure of Thy will ! How safe for 
the preserving of heavenly grace to fly from human approval, 
and not to long after the things which seem to win admiration 
abroad, but to follow with all earnestness those things which 
bring amendment of life and heavenly fervour! How many 
have been injured by their virtue being made known and 
too hastily praised. How truly profitable hath been grace 

* Psalm cxvi. 11; Romans iii. 4. * Matthew x 17, 36. 

» Matthew xxiv. sj. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 323 

preserved in silence in this frail life, which, as we are told, 
is all temptation and warfare. 



CHAPTER XLVI 
Of having confidence in God when evil words are cast at us 

*' My Son, stand fast and believe in Me. For what are 
words but words? They fly through the air, but they bruise 
no stone. If thou are guilty, think how thou wouldst gladly 
amend thyself; if thou knowest nothing against thyself, con- 
sider that thou wilt gladly bear this for God's sake. It is 
little enough that thou sometimes hast to bear hard words, 
for thou art not yet able to bear hard blows. And where- 
fore do such trivial matters go to thine heart, except that 
thou art yet carnal, and regardest men more than thou 
oughtest? For because thou fearest to be despised, thou 
art unwilling to be reproved for thy faults, and seekest 
paltry shelters of excuses. 

2. " But look better into thyself, and thou shalt know that 
the world is still alive in thee, and the vain love of pleasing 
men. For when thou fleest away from being abased and 
confounded for thy faults, it is plain that thou art neither 
truly humble nor truly dead to the world, and that the world 
is not crucified to thee. But hearken to My word, and thou 
shalt not care for ten thousand words of men. Behold, if 
all things could be said against thee which the utmost malice 
could invent, what should it hurt thee if thou wert altogether 
to let it go, and make no more account of it than of a mote ? 
Could it pluck out a single hair of thy head? 

3. " But he that hath no heart within him, and hath not 
God before his eyes, is easily moved by a word of reproach ; 
but he who trusteth in Me, and seeketh not to abide by his 
own judgment, shall be free from the fear of men. For I am 
the Judge and the Discerner of all secrets; I know how the 
thing hath been done; I know both the injurer and the bearer. 
From Me went forth that word, by My permission this hath 
happened, that the thoughts of many hearts may he revealed^ 
I shall judge the guilty and the innocent; but beforehand 

1 Lube ii. 35. 



324 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

I have willed to try them both by a secret judgment. 

4. " The testimony of men often deceiveth. My judgment 
is true ; it will stand, and it shall not be overturned. It com- 
monly lieth hid, and only to few in certain cases is it made 
known; yet it never erreth, nor can err, although it seem 
not right to the eyes of foolish men. To Me, therefore, 
must men have recourse in all judgment, and must not lean 
to their opinion. For there shall no evil happen to the just* 
whatsoever may be sent to him by God. Even though some 
unjust charge be brought against him, he will care little; 
nor, again, will he exult above measure, if through others 
he be clearly vindicated. For he considereth that I am He 
who try the hearts and reins' who judge not outwardly and 
according to human appearance ; for often in Mine eyes that 
is found blameworthy which in the judgment of men is held 
worthy of praise." 

5. O Lord God, O Judge, just, strong, and patient, who 
knowest the frailty and sinfulness of men, be Thou my 
strength and my whole confidence; for my own conscience 
sufficeth me not. Thou knowest what I know not ; and there- 
fore ought I under all rebuke to humble myself, and to bear 
it meekly. Therefore mercifully forgive me as often as I 
have not done this, and grant me the next time the grace of 
greater endurance. For better unto me is Thine abundant 
pity for the attainment of Thy pardon, than the righteous- 
ness which I believe myself to have for defence against my 
conscience, which lieth wait against me. Although / know 
nothing against myself, yet am I not hereby justified* because 
if Thy mercy were removed away, in Thy sight should no 
man living be justified* 



CHAPTER XLVII 

That all troubles are to be endured for the sake of 
eternal life 

"My Son, let not the labours which thou hast undertaken 
for Me break thee down, nor let tribulations cast thee down 

• Proverb* xii. ai. » Psalm vii. 9. * i Corinthiani iv. 4. 
■Psalm cxliii. 2. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 325 

in any wise, but let my promise strengthen and comfort thee 
in every event. I am sufficient to rew^ard thee above all 
measure and extent. Not long shalt thou labour here, nor 
always be weighed down with sorrows. Wait yet a little 
while, and thou shalt see a speedy end of thine evils. An 
hour shall come when all labour and confusion shall cease. 
Little and short is all that passeth away with time. 

2. " Do earnestly what thou dost ; labour faithfully in My 
vineyard; I will be thy reward. Write, read, sing, weep, be 
silent, pray, endure adversities manfully; eternal life is 
worthy of all these conflicts, yea, and of greater. Peace 
shall come in one day which is known to the Lord; which 
shall be neither day nor night^ but light eternal, infinite 
clearness, steadfast peace, and undisturbed rest. Thou shalt 
not say then. Who shall deliver me from the body of this 
deathf nor cry out. Woe is me, for my sojourning is pro- 
longed' because death will be utterly destroyed, and there 
shall be salvation which can never fail, no more anxiety, 
happy delight, sweet and noble society. 

3. " Oh, if thou sawest the unfading crowns of the Saints 
in heaven, and with what great glory they now rejoice, who 
aforetime were reckoned by this world contemptibly and 
as it were unworthy of life, truly thou wouldst immediately 
humble thyself even to the earth, and wouldst desire rather 
to be in subjection to all, than to have authority over one; 
nor wouldst thou long for pleasant days of this life, but 
wouldst more rejoice to be afflicted for God's sake, and 
wouldst esteem it gain to be counted for nought amongst 
men. 

4. " Oh, if these things were sweet to thy taste, and moved 
thee to the bottom of thine heart, how shouldst thou dare 
even once to complain? Are not all laborious things to be 
endured for the sake of eternal life? It is no small thing, 
the losing or gaining the Kingdom of God. Lift up there- 
fore thy face to heaven. Behold, I and all My Saints with 
Me, who in this world had a hard conflict, now rejoice, are 
now comforted, are now secure, are now at peace, and shall 
remain with Me evermore in the Kingdom of My Father." 

* Zechariah xiv. 7. ' Romans vii. 24. ' Psalm cxx. 



326 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

CHAPTER XL VIII 
Of the day of eternity and of the straitnesses of this life 

Oh most blessed mansion of the City which is above ! Oh 
most clear day of eternity which the night obscureth not, 
but the Supreme Truth ever enlighteneth ! Day always joy- 
ful, always secure and never changing its state into those 
which are contrary. Oh would that this day might shine 
forth, and that all these temporal things would come to an 
end. It shineth indeed upon the Saints, glowing with unend- 
ing brightness, but only from afar and through a glass, upon 
those who are pilgrims on the earth. 

2. The citizens of heaven know how glorious that day is; 
the exiled sons of Eve groan, because this is bitter and weari- 
some. The days of this life are few and evil, full of sorrows 
and straits, where man is defiled with many sins, ensnared 
with many passions, bound fast with many fears, wearied 
with many cares, distracted with many questionings, en- 
tangled with many vanities, compassed about with many 
errors, worn away with many labours, weighed down with 
temptations, enervated by pleasures, tormented by poverty. 

3. Oh when shall there be an end of these evils? When 
shall I be delivered from the wretched slavery of my sins? 
When shall I be mindful, O Lord, of Thee alone? When 
shall I rejoice in Thee to the full ? When shall I be in true 
liberty without any impediment, without any burden on mind 
or body? When shall there be solid peace, peace immovable 
and secure, peace within and without, peace firm on every 
side? Blessed Jesus, when shall I stand to behold Thee? 
When shall I gaze upon the glory of Thy kingdom? When 
shalt Thou be to me all in all? Oh when shall I be with 
Thee in Thy Kingdom which Thou hast prepared from the 
foundation of the world for them that love Thee ? I am left 
destitute, an exile in a hostile land, where are daily wars 
and grievous misfortunes. 

4. Console my exile, mitigate my sorrow, for towards Thee 
all my desire longeth. For all is to me a burden, whatso- 
ever this world offereth for consolation. I yearn to enjoy 
Thee intimately, but I cannot attain unto it. I long to cleave 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 327 

to heavenly things, but temporal things and unmortified 
passions press me down. In my mind I would be above all 
things, but in my flesh I am unwillingly compelled to be 
beneath them. So, wretched man that I am, I fight with my- 
self, and am made grievous even unto myself, while the spirit 
seeketh to be above and the flesh to be beneath. 

5. Oh how I suffer inwardly, while with the mind I dis- 
course on heavenly things, and presently a crowd of carnal 
things rusheth upon me whilst I pray. My God, he not Thou 
far from me, nor depart in wrath from Thy servant. Cast 
forth Thy lightning and scatter them; send out Thine ar- 
rows^ and let all delusions of my enemy be confounded. 
Recall my senses unto Thyself, cause me to forget all worldly 
things; grant me quickly to cast away and despise the im- 
aginations of sin. Succour me, O Eternal Truth, that no 
vanity may move me. Come unto me, O Heavenly Sweet- 
ness, and let all impurity flee from before Thy face. Pardon 
me also, and of Thy mercy deal gently with me, whensoever 
in prayer I think on anything besides Thee ; for truly I con- 
fess that I am wont to be continually distracted. For often 
and often, where in the body I stand or sit, there I myself 
am not; but rather am I there, whither I am borne by my 
thoughts. Where my thought is, there am I ; and there 
commonly is my thought where that which I love is. That 
readily occurreth to me, which naturally delighteth, or pleas- 
eth through custom. 

6. Wherefore Thou, who art the Truth, hast plainly said, 
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.' If 
I love heaven, I gladly meditate on heavenly things. If I 
love the world, I rejoice in the delights of the world, and 
am made sorry by its adversities. If I love the flesh, I am 
continually imagining the things which belong to the flesh ; 
if I love the spirit, I am delighted by meditating on spiritual 
things. For whatsoever things I love, on these I readily 
converse and listen, and carry home with me the images of 
them. But blessed is that man who for Thy sake, O Lord, 
is willing to part from all creatures; who doth violence to 
his fleshly nature and crucifieth the lusts of the flesh by the 
fervour of his spirit, so that with serene conscience he may 

^ Paalm Ixxi. 12. ^ Matthew vi. 21. 



328 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

offer unto Thee a pure prayer, and be made worthy to enter 
into the angelic choirs, having shut out from himself, both 
outwardly and inwardly, all worldly things. 



CHAPTER XLIX 

Of the desire after eternal life, and how great blessings are 
promised to those who strive 

" My Son, when thou feelest the desire of eternal happiness 
to be poured into thee from above, and longest to depart 
from the tabernacle of this body, that thou mayest contem- 
plate My glory without shadow of turning, enlarge thine 
heart, and take in this holy inspiration with all thy desire. 
Give most hearty thanks to the Supreme Goodness, who 
dealeth with thee so graciously, visiteth thee so lovingly, 
stirreth thee up so fervently, raiseth thee so powerfully, lest 
thou sink down through thine own weight, to earthly things. 
For not by thine own meditating or striving dost thou re- 
ceive this gift, but by the sole gracious condescension of 
Supreme Grace and Divine regard; to the end that thou 
mayest make progress in virtue and in more humility, and 
prepare thyself for future conflicts, and cleave unto Me with 
all the affection of thy heart, and strive to serve Me with 
fervent will. 

2. " My Son, often the fire burneth, but the flame ascendeth 
not without smoke. So also the desires of some men burn 
towards heavenly things, and yet they are not free from the 
temptation of carnal affection. Thus therefore they are not 
acting with an altogether simple desire for God's glory when 
they pray to Him so earnestly. Such, too, is oftentimes thy 
desire, when thou hast imagined it to be so earnest. For 
that is not pure and perfect which is tainted with thine own 
self-seeking. 

3. " Seek thou not what is pleasant and advantageous to 
thyself, but what is acceptable and honourable unto Me; for 
if thou judgest rightly, thou must choose and follow after 
My appointment rather than thine own desire; yea, rather 
than anything that can be desired. I know thy desire, and 
I have heard thy many groanings. Already thou longest 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 329 

to be in the glorious liberty of the children of God; already 
the eternal home delighteth thee, and the heavenly country 
full of joy; but the hour is not yet come; there remaineth 
still another season, even a season of warfare, a season of 
labour and probation. Thou desirest to be filled with the 
Chief Good, but thou canst not attain it immediately. I am 
that Good; wait for Me, until the Kingdom of God shall 
come. 

4. " Thou must still be tried upon earth, and be exercised 
in many things. Consolation shall from time to time be 
given thee, but abundant satisfying shall not be granted. Be 
strong therefore, and be thou brave both in working and in 
suffering things which are against thy nature. Thou must 
put on the new man, and be changed into another man. 
Thou must often do what thou wouldst not; and thou must 
leave undone what thou wouldst do. What pleaseth others 
shall have good success, what pleaseth thee shall have no 
prosperity. What others say shall be listened to; what thou 
sayest shall receive no heed. Others shall ask and receive; 
thou shalt ask and not obtain. Others shall be great in the 
report of men, but about thee shall nothing be spoken. To 
others this or that shall be entrusted; thou shalt be judged 
useful for nought. 

5. " For this cause nature shall sometimes be filled with 
sadness; and it is a great thing if thou bear it silently. In 
this and many like things the faithful servant of the Lord 
is wont to be tried, how far he is able to deny himself and 
bring himself into subjection in all things. Scarcely is there 
anything in which thou hast need to mortify thyself so much 
as in seeing things which are adverse to thy will; especially 
when things are commanded thee to be done which seem 
to thee inexpedient or of little use to thee. And because 
thou darest not resist a higher power, being under authority, 
therefore it seemeth hard for thee to shape thy course 
according to the nod of another, and to forego thine own 
opinion. 

6. " But consider, My Son, the fruit of these labours, the 
swift end, and the reward exceeding great; and thou shalt 
find it no pain to bear them then, but rather the strongest 
solace of thy patience. For even in exchange for this tri- 



330 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

fling desire which thou hast readily forsaken, thou shalt al- 
ways have thy will in Heaven. There verily thou shalt find all 
that thou wouldst, all that thou canst long for. There thou 
shalt have all good within thy power without the fear of 
losing it. There thy will, ever at one with Mine, shall desire 
nothing outward, nothing for itself. There no man shall 
withstand thee, none shall complain of thee, none shall 
hinder, nothing shall stand in thy path ; but all things desired 
by thee shall be present together, and shall refresh thy 
whole affection, and fill it up even to the brim. There I will 
glory for the scorn suffered here, the garment of praise for 
sorrow, and for the lowest place a throne in the Kingdom, 
for ever. There shall appear the fruit of obedience, the 
labour of repentance shall rejoice, and humble subjection 
shall be crowned gloriously. 

7. " Now therefore bow thyself humbly under the hands of 
all men ; nor let it trouble thee who said this or who ordered 
that; but take special heed that whether thy superior, thy 
inferior, or thy equal, require anything from thee, or even 
show a desire for it; take it all in good part, and study with 
a good will to fulfil the desire. Let one seek this, another 
that; let this man glory in this, and that man in that, and 
be praised a thousand thousand times, but rejoice thou 
only in the contempt of thyself, and in Mine own good 
pleasure and glory. This is what thou art to long for, even 
that whether by life or by death God may be ever magnified 
in thee."^ 

CHAPTER L 

How a desolate man ought to commit himself into 
the hands of God 

O Lord, Holy Father, be Thou blessed now and evermore; 
because as Thou wilt so it is done, and what Thou doest is 
good. Let Thy servant rejoice in Thee, not in himself, nor 
in any other; because Thou alone art the true joy, Thou art 
my hope and my crown, Thou art my joy and my honour, 
O Lord. What hath Thy servant, which he received not 
from Thee, even without merit of his own? Thine are all 

* Philippians L 20. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 331 

things which Thou hast given, and which Thou hast made. 
/ am poor and in misery even front my youth up^ and my 
soul is sorrowful unto tears, sometimes also it is disquieted 
within itself, because of the sufferings which are coming 
upon it. 

2. I long after the joy of peace; for the peace of Thy 
children do I beseech, for in the light of Thy comfort they 
are fed by Thee. If Thou give peace, if Thou pour into me 
holy joy, the soul of Thy servant shall be full of melody, 
and devout in Thy praise. But if Thou withdraw Thyself 
as too often Thou art wont, he will not be able to run in the 
way of Thy commandments, but rather he will smite his 
breast and will bow his knees; because it is not with him as 
yesterday and the day before, when Thy candle shined upon 
his head," and he walked under the shadow of Thy zvings* 
from the temptations which beset him. 

3. O Father, righteous and ever to be praised, the hour 
cometh when Thy servant is to be proved. O beloved Father, 
it is well that in this hour Thy servant suffer somewhat for 
Thy sake. O Father, evermore to be adored, as the hour 
cometh which Thou foreknewest from everlasting, when for 
a little while Thy servant should outwardly bow down, but 
always live inwardly with Thee; when for a little while he 
should be little regarded, humbled, and fail in the eyes of 
men; should be wasted with sufferings and weaknesses, to 
rise again with Thee in the dawn of the new light, and be 
glorified in the heavenly places. O Holy Father, thou hast 
ordained it so, and so hast willed it; and that is done which 
Thou Thyself hast commanded. 

4. For this is Thy favour to Thy friend, that he should 
suffer and be troubled in the world for Thy love's sake, how 
often soever, and by whomsoever and whosoever Thou hast 
suffered it to be done. Without Thy counsel and providence, 
and without cause, nothing cometh to pass on the earth. 
It is good for me, Lord, that I had been in trouble, that I may 
learn Thy statutes* and may cast away all pride of heart 
and presumption. It is profitable for me that confusion hath 
covered my face, that I may seek to Thee for consolation 

1 Psalm Ixxxviii. 15. ^ Job xxix. 3. * Psalm xvii. 8. 

* Psalm cxix. 71. 



I 



332 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

rather than unto men. By this also I have learned to dread 
Thine unsearchable judgment, who afflictest the just with 
the wicked, but not without equity and justice. 

5. Thanks be unto Thee, because Thou hast not spared 
my sins, but hast beaten me with stripes of love, inflicting 
pains, and sending troubles upon me without and within. 
There is none who can console me, of all things which are 
under heaven, but Thou only, O Lord my God, Thou heavenly 
Physician of souls, who dost scourge and hast mercy, who 
leadest down to hell and hringest up again^ Thy discipline 
over me, and Thy rod itself shall teach me. 

6. Behold, O beloved Father, I am in Thy hands, I bow 
myself under the rod of Thy correction. Smite my back 
and my neck that I may bend my crookedness to Thy will. 
Make me a pious and lowly disciple, as Thou wert wont to 
be kind, that I may walk according to every nod of Thine. 
To Thee I commend myself and all that I have for cor- 
rection ; better is it to be punished here than hereafter. 
Thou knowest all things and each of them; and nothing 
remaineth hid from Thee in man's conscience. Before they 
are, thou knowest that they will be, and Thou needest not 
that any man teach Thee or admonish Thee concerning the 
things which are done upon the earth. Thou knowest what 
is expedient for my profit, and how greatly trouble serveth 
unto the scrubbing off the rust of sin. Do with me accord- 
ing to Thy desired good pleasure, and despise not my life 
which is full of sin, known to none so entirely and fully as 
to Thee alone. 

7. Grant me, O Lord, to know that which ought to be 
known; to love that which ought to be loved; to praise that 
which pleaseth Thee most, to esteem that which is precious 
in Thy sight, to blame that which is vile in Thine eyes. 
Suffer me not to judge according to the sight of bodily eyes, 
nor to give sentence according to the hearing of the ears 
of ignorant men; but to discern in true judgment between 
visible and spiritual things, and above all things to be ever 
seeking after the will of Thy good pleasure. 

8. Oftentimes the senses of men are deceived in judging; 
the lovers of the world also are deceived in that they love 

* Job xiii. 2. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 333 

only visible things. What is a man better because by man 
he is reckoned very great? The deceiver deceiveth the 
deceiver, the vain man the vain, the blind man the blind, 
the weak man the weak, when they exalt one another; and 
in truth they rather put to shame, while they foolishly praise. 
For as humble St. Francis saith, " What each one is in 
Thine eyes, so much he is, and no more." 



CHAPTER LI 

That we must give ourselves to humble works when we are 
unequal to those that are lofty 

" My Son, thou art not always able to continue in very 
fervent desire after virtues, nor to stand fast in the loftier 
region of contemplation ; but thou must of necessity some- 
times descend to lower things because of thine original cor- 
ruption, and bear about the burden of corruptible life, though 
unwillingly and with weariness. So long as thou wearest 
a mortal body, thou shalt feel weariness and heaviness of 
heart. Therefore thou oughtest to groan often in the flesh 
because of the burden of the flesh, inasmuch as thou canst 
not give thyself to spiritual studies and divine contemplation 
unceasingly. 

2. " At such a time it is expedient for thee to flee to 
humble and external works, and to renew thyself with good 
actions ; to wait for My coming and heavenly visitation with 
sure confidence; to bear thy exile and drought of mind with 
patience, until thou be visited by Me again, and be freed 
from all anxieties. For I will cause thee to forget thy 
labours, and altogether to enjoy eternal peace. I will spread 
open before thee the pleasant pastures of the Scriptures, 
that with enlarged heart thou mayest begin to run in the 
way of My commandments. And thou shalt say, ' The 
sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be com- 
pared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.' "^ 

^ Romans viii. i8. 



334 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 



CHAPTER LII 

That a man ought not to reckon himself worthy of consolation, 
but more worthy of chastisement 

Lord, I am not worthy of Thy consolation, nor of any 
spiritual visitation; and therefore Thou dealest justly with 
me, when Thou leavest me poor and desolate. For if I were 
able to pour forth tears like the sea, still should I not be 
worthy of Thy consolation. Therefore am I nothing worthy 
save to be scourged and punished, because I have grievously 
and many a time offended Thee, and in many things have 
greatly sinned. Therefore, true account being taken, I am 
not worthy even of the least of Thy consolations. But Thou, 
gracious and merciful God, who wiliest not that Thy works 
should perish, to show forth the riches of Thy mercy upon 
the vessels of mercy,* vouchsafest even beyond all his own 
deserving, to comfort Thy servant above the measure of 
mankind. For Thy consolations are not like unto the dis- 
coursings of men. 

2. What have I done, O Lord, that Thou shouldst bestow 
any heavenly comfort upon me? I remember not that I 
have done any good, but have been ever prone to sin and 
slow to amendment. It is true and I cannot deny it. If I 
should say otherwise, Thou wouldst rise up against me, and 
there would be none to defend me. What have I deserved 
for my sins but hell and everlasting fire? In very truth 

1 confess that I am worthy of all scorn and contempt, nor 
is it fit that I should be remembered among Thy faithful 
servants. And although I be unwilling to hear this, never- 
theless I will for the Truth's sake, accuse myself of my sins, 
that the more readily I may prevail to be accounted worthy 
of Thy mercy. 

3. What shall I say, guilty that I am and filled with con- 
fusion? I have no mouth to utter, unless it be this word 
alone, " I have sinned. Lord, I have sinned ; have mercy upon 
me, forgive me." Let me alone, that I may take comfort a 
little before I go whence I shall not return even to the land 
of darkness and the shadow of death* What dost Thou so 

^ Romans ix. 23. * Job x. 20, 21. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 335 

much require of a guilty and miserable sinner, as that he be 
contrite, and humble himself for his sins? In true con- 
trition and humiliation of heart is begotten the hope of pardon, 
the troubled conscience is reconciled, lost grace is recovered, 
a man is preserved from the wrath to come, and God and 
the penitent soul hasten to meet each other with a holy kiss.' 
4. The humble contrition of sinners is an acceptable sacri- 
fice unto Thee, O Lord, sending forth a smell sweeter far 
in Thy sight than the incense. This also is that pleasant 
ointment which Thou wouldst have poured upon Thy sacred 
feet, for a broken and contrite heart Thou hast never de- 
spised.'' There is the place of refuge from the wrathful 
countenance of the enemy. There is amended and washed 
away whatsoever evil hath elsewhere been contracted. 



CHAPTER LIII 

That the Grace of God doth not join itself to those who 
mind earthly things 

" My Son, precious is My grace, it suffereth not itself to be 
joined with outward things, nor with earthly consolations. 
Therefore thou oughtest to cast away all things which 
hinder grace, if thou longest to receive the inpouring thereof. 
Seek a secret place for thyself, love to dwell alone with thy- 
self, desire the conversation of no one; but rather pour out 
thy devout prayer to God, that thou mayest possess a contrite 
mind and a pure conscience. Count the whole world as 
nought ; seek to be alone with God before all outward things. 
For thou canst not be alone with Me, and at the same time 
be delighted with transitory things. Thou oughtest to be 
separated from thy acquaintances and dear friends, and keep 
thy mind free from all worldly comfort. So the blessed 
Apostle Peter beseecheth, that Christ's faithful ones bear 
themselves in this world as strangers and pilgrims.^ 

2. " Oh how great a confidence shall there be to the dy- 
ing man whom no affection to anything detaineth in the 
world? But to have a heart so separated from all things, 
a sickly soul doth not yet comprehend, nor doth the carnal 
*Luke XV. 20. * Psalm li. 17. 1 1 Peter ii. 11. 



336 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

man know the liberty of the spiritual man. But if indeed 
he desire to be spiritually minded, he must renounce both 
those who are far off, and those who are near, and to be- 
ware of no man more than himself. If thou perfectly con- 
quer thyself, very easily shalt thou subdue all things besides. 
Perfect victory is the triumph over oneself. For whoso 
keepeth himself in subjection, in such manner that the sen- 
sual affections obey the reason, and the reason in all things 
obeyeth Me, he truly is conqueror of himself, and lord of the 
world. 

3. " If thou desire to climb to this height, thou oughtest to 
start bravely, and to lay the axe to the root, to the end that 
thou mayest pull up and destroy the hidden inordinate in- 
clination towards thyself, and towards all selfish and earthly 
good. From this sin, that a man loveth himself too inordi- 
nately, almost everything hangeth which needeth to be 
utterly overcome : when that evil is conquered and put under 
foot, there shall be great peace and tranquillity continually. 
But because few strive earnestly to die perfectly to them- 
selves, and do not heartily go forth from themselves, there- 
fore do they remain entangled in themselves, and cannot be 
raised in spirit above themselves. But he who desireth to 
walk at liberty with Me, must of necessity mortify all his 
evil and inordinate affections, and must cling to no creature 
with selfish love." 

CHAPTER LIV 
Of the diverse motions of Nature and of Grace 

" My Son, pay diligent heed to the motions of Nature and of 
Grace, because they move in a very contrary and subtle 
manner, and arc hardly distinguished save by a spiritual 
and inwardly enlightened man. All men indeed seek good, 
and make pretence of something good in all that they say 
or do; and thus under the appearance of good many are 
deceived. 

2. "Nature is deceitful and draweth away, ensnareth, 
and deceiveth many, and always hath self for her end; but 
Grace walketh in simplicity and turneth away from every 
appearance of evil, maketh no false pretences, and doeth 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 337 

all entirely for the sake of God, in whom also she finally 
resteth. 

3. " Nature is very unwilling to die, and to be pressed 
down, and to be overcome, and to be in subjection, and to 
bear the yoke readily; but Grace studieth self-mortification, 
resisteth sensuality, seeketh to be subdued, longeth to be 
conquered, and willeth not to use her own liberty. She 
loveth to be held by discipline, and not to have authority 
over any, but always to live, to remain, to have her being 
under God, and for God's sake is ready to be humbly subject 
to every ordinance of man. 

4. " Nature laboureth for her own advantage, and con- 
sidereth what profit she may gain from another; but Grace 
considereth more, not what may be useful and convenient to 
self, but what may be profitable to the many. 

5. " Nature willingly receiveth honour and reverence ; 
but Grace faithfully ascribeth all honour and glory to God. 

6. " Nature feareth confusion and contempt, but Grace re- 
joiceth to sufifer shame for the name of Jesus. 

7. " Nature loveth ease and bodily quiet ; Grace cannot 
be unemployed, but gladly embraceth labour. 

8. " Nature seeketh to possess things curious and at- 
tractive, and abhorreth those which are rough and cheap; 
Grace is delighted with things simple and humble, despiseth 
not those which are rough, nor refuseth to be clothed with 
old garments. 

g. " Nature hath regard to things temporal, rejoiceth in 
earthly lucre, is made sad by loss, vexed by any little in- 
jurious word; but Grace reacheth after things eternal', 
cleaveth not to those which are temporal, is not perturbed 
by losses, nor embittered by any hard words, because she 
hath placed her treasure and joy in heaven where nought 
perisheth. 

10. " Nature is covetous, and receiveth more willingly than • 
she giveth, loveth things that are personal and private to 
herself; while Grace is kind and generous, avoideth selfish- 
ness, is contented with a little, believeth that it is more 
blessed to give than to receive. 

11. " Nature inclineth thee to created things, to thine own 
flesh, to vanities and dissipation ; but Grace draweth to God 



338 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

and to virtues, renounceth creatures, fleeth from the world, 
hateth the desires of the flesh, restraineth vagaries, blusheth 
to be seen in public. 

12. " Nature is glad to receive some outward solace in 
which the senses may have delight; but Grace seeketh to 
be comforted in God alone, and to have delight in the chief 
good above all visible things. 

13. " Nature doeth everything for her own gain and profit, 
can do nothing as a free favour, but hopeth to attain some- 
thing as good or better, or some praise or favour for her 
benefits; and she loveth that her own deeds and gifts should 
be highly valued; but Grace seeketh nothing temporal, nor 
requireth any other gift of reward than God alone; neither 
longeth she for more of temporal necessities than such as 
may suffice for the attaining of eternal life. 

14. " Nature rejoiceth in many friends and kinsfolk, she 
boasteth of noble place and noble birth, she smileth on the 
powerful, flattereth the rich, applaudeth those who are like 
herself; but Grace loveth even her enemies, and is not lifted 
up by the multitude of friends, setteth no store upon high 
place or high birth, unless there be greater virtue therewith ; 
favoureth the poor man more than the rich, hath more sym- 
pathy with the innocent than with the powerful; rejoiceth 
with the truthful, not with the liar; always exhorteth the 
good to strive after better gifts of grace, and to become by 
holiness like Unto the Son of God. 

15. "Nature quickly complaineth of poverty and of 
trouble; Grace beareth want with constancy. 

16. " Nature looketh upon all things in reference to her- 
self ; striveth and argueth for self ; but Grace bringeth back all 
things to God from whom they came at the beginning; ascrib- 
eth no good to herself nor arrogantly presumeth ; is not con- 
tentious, nor preferreth her own opinion to others, but in 
every sense and understanding submitteth herself to the 
Eternal wisdom and the Divine judgment. 

17. " Nature is eager to know secrets and to hear new 
things ; she loveth to appear abroad, and to make experience 
of many things through the senses; she desireth to be ac- 
knowledged and to do those things which win praise and 
admiration ; but Grace careth not to gather up new or curious 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 338 

things, because all this springeth from the old corruption, 
whereas there is nothing new or lasting upon earth. So 
she teacheth to restrain the senses, to shun vain complacency 
and ostentation, to hide humbly those things which merit 
praise and real admiration, and from everything and in all 
knowledge to seek after useful fruit, and the praise and 
honour of God. She desireth not to receive praise for her- 
self or her own, but longeth that God be blessed in all His 
gifts, who out of unmingled love bestoweth all things." 

i8. This Grace is a supernatural light, and a certain 
special gift of God, and the proper mark of the elect, and 
the pledge of eternal salvation ; it exalteth a man from earthly 
things to love those that are heavenly; and it maketh the 
carnal man spiritual. So far therefore as Nature is utterly 
pressed down and overcome, so far is greater Grace bestowed 
and the inner man is daily created anew by fresh visitations, 
after the image of God. 



CHAPTER LV 
Of the corrtiption of Nature and the efficacy of Divine Grace 

O Lord my God, who hast created me after thine own image 
and similitude, grant me this grace, which Thou hast shown 
to be so great and so necessary for salvation, that I may con- 
quer my wicked nature, which draweth me to sin and to 
perdition. For I feel in my flesh the law of sin, contradict- 
ing the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity 
to the obedience of sensuality in many things; nor can I 
resist its passions, unless Thy most holy grace assist me, 
fervently poured into my heart. 

2. There is need of Thy grace, yea, and of a great measure 
thereof, that my nature may be conquered, which hath alway 
been prone to evil from my youth. For being fallen through 
the first man Adam, and corrupted through sin, the punish- 
ment of this stain descended upon all men; so that Nature 
itself, which was framed good and right by Thee, is now 
used to express the vice and infirmity of corrupted Nature; 
because its motion left unto itself draweth men away to 
evil and to lower things. For the little power which remain- 



340 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

eth is as it were one spark lying hid in the ashes. This 
is Natural reason itself, encompassed with thick clouds, hav- 
ing yet a discernment of good and evil, a distinction of the 
true and the false, though it be powerless to fulfil all that 
it approveth, and possess not yet the full light of truth, nor 
healthfulness of its affections. 

3. Hence it is, O my God, that / delight in Thy law after 
the inward man,^ knowing that Thy commandment is holy 
and just and good; reproving also all evil, and the sin that 
is to be avoided: yet with the flesh I serve the law of sin, 
whilst I obey sensuality rather than reason. Hence it is 
that to will to do good is present with me, but how to per- 
form it I find not." Hence I ofttimes purpose many good 
things ; but because grace is lacking to help mine infirmities, 
I fall back before a little resistance and fail. Hence it 
Cometh to pass that I recognize the way of perfectness, and 
see very clearly what things I ought to do ; but pressed down 
by the weight of my own corruption, I rise not to the things 
which are more perfect. 

4. Oh how entirely necessary is Thy grace to me, O Lord, 
for a good beginning, for progress, and for bringing to 
perfection. For without it I can do nothing, but / can do all 
things through Thy grace which strengtheneth me^ O 
truly heavenly grace, without which our own merits are 
nought, and no gifts of Nature at all are to be esteemed. 
Arts, riches, beauty, strength, wit, eloquence, they all avail 
nothing before Thee, O Lord, without Thy grace. For the 
gifts of Nature belong to good and evil alike; but the proper 
gift of the elect is grace — that is, love — and they who bear 
the mark thereof are held worthy of everlasting life. So 
mighty is this grace, that without it neither the gift of 
prophecy nor the working of miracles, nor any speculation, 
howsoever lofty, is of any value at all. But neither faith, 
nor hope, nor any other virtue is accepted with Thee with- 
out love and grace. 

5. O most blessed grace that makest the poor in spirit 
rich in virtues, and renderest him who is rich in many things 
humble in spirit, come Thou, descend upon me, fill me early 
with Thy consolation, lest my soul fail through weariness 

» Romans vii. 12, 22. 25. 'Romans viL 18. 'Philippians iv. 13. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 341 

and drought of mind. I beseech thee, O Lord, that I may 
find grace in Thy sight, for Thy grace is sufficient for me* 
when I obtain not those things which Nature longeth for. 
If I be tempted and vexed with many tribulations, I will fear 
no evil, while Thy grace remaineth with me. This alone 
is my strength, this bringeth me counsel and help. It is 
more powerful than all enemies, and wiser than all the wise 
men in the world. 

6. It is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline, the 
light of the heart, the solace of anxiety, the banisher of sor- 
row, the deliverer from fear, the nurse of devotion, the 
drawer forth of tears. What am I without it, save a dry 
tree, a useless branch, worthy to be cast away ! " Let Thy 
grace, therefore, O Lord, always prevent and follow me, 
and make me continually given to all good works, through 
Jesus Christ, Thy Son. Amen." 



CHAPTER LVI 

That wc ought to deny ourselves, and to imitate Christ by 
means of the Cross 

My Son, so far as thou art able to go out of thyself so far 
shalt thou be able to enter into Me. As to desire no out- 
ward thing worketh internal peace, so the forsaking of self 
inwardly joineth unto God. I will that thou learn perfect 
self-denial, living in My will without contradiction or com- 
plaint. Follow Me: / am the way, the truth, and the life}- 
Without the way thou canst not go, without the truth thou 
canst not know, without the life thou canst not live. I am 
the Way which thou oughtest to follow; the Truth which 
thou oughtest to believe; the Life which thou oughtest to 
hope for. I am the Way unchangeable ; the Truth infallible ; 
the Life everlasting. I am the Way altogether straight, the 
Truth supreme, the true Life, the blessed Life, the uncreated 
Life. If thou remain in My way thou shalt know the Truth, 
and the truth shall make thee free^ and thou shalt lay hold on 
eternal life. 

2. " // thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.^ 

* 3 Corinthians xii. 9. ^ John xiv. 6. » John viii. 32. * Matthew xix. 17, 21. 



342 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

If thou wilt know the truth, beUeve in Me. // thou wilt h» 
perfect, sell all that thou hast. If thou wilt be My disciple, 
deny thyself. If thou wouldst possess the blessed life, de- 
spise the life which now is. If thou wilt be exalted in 
heaven, humble thyself in the world. If thou wilt reign 
with Me, bear the cross with Me; for only the servants of 
the cross find the way of blessedness and of true light." 

3. O Lord Jesu, forasmuch as Thy life was straitened and 
despised by the world, grant unto me to imitate Thee in 
despising the world, for the servant is not greater than his 
lord, nor the disciple above his master* Let Thy servant 
be exercised in Thy Ufe, because there is my salvation and 
true holiness. Whatsoever I read or hear besides it, it 
refresheth me not, nor giveth me delight. 

4. " My son, because thou knowest these things and hast 
read them all, blessed shalt thou be if thou doest them. He 
who hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that 
loveth Me, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to 
him^ and I will make him to sit down with Me in My Father's 
Kingdom." 

5. O Lord Jesu, as Thou hast said and promised, even so 
let it be unto me, and grant me to prove worthy. I have 
received the cross at Thy hand; I have carried it, and will 
carry it even unto death, as Thou hast laid it upon me. 
Truly the life of a truly devoted servant is a cross, but it 
leadeth to paradise. I have begun; I may not return back 
nor leave it. 

6. Come, my brothers, let us together go forward. Jesus 
shall be with us. For Jesus' sake have we taken up this 
cross, for Jesus' sake let us persevere in the cross. He will 
be our helper, who was our Captain and Forerunner. Be- 
hold our King entereth in before us, and He will fight foe 
us. Let us follow bravely, let no man fear terrors; let us 
be prepared to die bravely in battle, and let us not so stain 
our honour,* as to fly from the cross. 

* Matthew x. 24. "John xiv. 21. *i Mac. ix. 10. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 343 



CHAPTER LVII 

That a man must not be too much cast down when he 
falleth into some faults 

" My Son, patience and humility in adversities are more 
pleasing to Me than much comfort and devotion in pros- 
perity. Why doth a little thing spoken against thee make 
thee sad? If it had been more, thou still oughtest not to 
be moved. But now suffer it to go by ; it is not the first, it is 
not new, and it will not be the last, if thou live long. Thou 
art brave enough, so long as no adversity meeteth thee. 
Thou givest good counsel also, and knowest how to 
strengthen others with thy words; but when tribulation 
suddenly knocketh at thine own door, thy counsel and 
strength fail. Consider thy great frailty, which thou dost 
so often experience in trifling matters nevertheless, for thy 
soul's health these things are done when they and such 
like happen unto thee. 

2. " Put them away from thy heart as well as thou canst, 
and if tribulation hath touched thee, yet let it not cast thee 
down nor entangle thee long. At the least, bear patiently, 
if thou canst not joyfully. And although thou be very tin- 
willing to hear it, and feel indignation, yet check thyself, 
and suffer no unadvised word to come forth from thy lips, 
whereby the little ones may be offended. Soon the storm 
which hath been raised shall be stilled, and inward grief 
shall be sweetened by returning grace. I yet live, saith the 
Lord, ready to help thee, and to give thee more than wonted 
consolation if thou put thy trust in Me, and call devoutly 
upon Me. 

3. " Be thou more calm of spirit, and gird thyself for 
greater endurance. All is not frustrated, though thou find 
thyself very often afflicted or grievously tempted. Thou 
art man, not God; thou art flesh, not an angel. How 
shouldst thou be able to remain alway in the same state of 
virtue, when an angel in heaven fell, and the first man in 
paradise? I am He who lifteth up the mourners to deliver- 
ance, and those who know their own infirmity I raise up to 
my own nature." 



344 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

4. O Lord, blessed be Thy word, sweeter to my mouth 
than honey and the honeycomb. What should I do in ray 
so great tribulations and anxieties, unless Thou didst com- 
fort me with Thy holy words? If only I may attain unto, 
the haven of salvation, what matter is it what things or 
how many I sufifer ? Give me a good end, give me a happy 
passage out of this world. Remember me, O my God, and 
lead me by the right way unto Thy Kingdom. Amen. 



CHAPTER LVIII 

Of deeper matters, and God's hidden, judgments which are 
not to be inquired into 

" My Son, beware thou dispute not of high matters and of 
the hidden judgments of God; why this man is thus left, and 
that man is taken into so great favour; why also this man 
is so greatly afflicted, and that so highly exalted. These 
things pass all man's power of judging, neither may any 
reasoning or disputation have power to search out the di- 
vine judgments. When therefore the enemy suggesteth these 
things to thee, or when any curious people ask such questions, 
answer with that word of the Prophet, Just art Thou, O 
Lord, and true is Thy judgment^ and with this, The judg- 
ments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether* My 
judgments are to be feared, not to be disputed on, because 
they are incomprehensible to human understanding. 

2. " And be not given to inquire or dispute about the 
merits of the Saints, which is holier than another, or which 
is the greater in the Kingdom of Heaven. Such questions 
often beget useless strifes and contentions: they also nourish 
pride and vain glory, whence envyings and dissensions arise, 
while one man arrogantly endeavoureth to exalt one Saint 
and another another. But to wish to know and search out 
such things bringeth no fruit, but it rather displeaseth the 
Saints; for I am not the God of confusion hut of peace;* 
which peace consisteth more in true humility than in self- 
exaltation. 

3. " Some are drawn by zeal of love to greater affection 
1 Psalm cxix. 137. ^ Psalm xix. 9. * Corinthians xiv. 33. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 345 

to tfiese Saints or those; but this is human affection rather 
than divine. I am He Who made all the Saints: I gave 
them grace, I brought them glory; I know the merrits of 
every one ; / prevented them zvith the blessings of My good- 
ness.* I foreknew my beloved ones from everlasting, / chose 
them out of the world f they did not choose Me. I called 
them by My grace, drew them by My mercy, led them on 
through sundry temptations. I poured mighty consolations 
upon them, I gave them perseverance, I crowned their 
patience. 

4. " I acknowledge the first and the last ; I embrace all 
with inestimable love. I am to be praised in all My Saints ; 
I am to be blessed above all things, and to be honoured in 
every one whom I have so gloriously exalted and predes- 
tined, without any preceding merits of their own. He 
therefore that shall despise one of the least of these My 
people, honoureth not the great; because I made both small 
and great." And he who speaketh against any of My Saints 
speaketh against Me, and against all others in the Kingdom 
of Heaven." 

They are all one through the bond of charity; they think 
the same thing, will the same thing, and all are united in love 
one to another. 

5. " But yet (which is far better) they love Me above 
themselves and their own merits. For being caught up 
above themselves, and drawn beyond self-love, they go all 
straightforward to the love of Me, and they rest in Me in 
perfect enjoyment. There is nothing which can turn them 
away or press them down ; for being full of Eternal Truth, 
they burn with the fire of inextinguishable charity. There- 
fore let all carnal and natural men hold their peace concern- 
ing the state of the Saints, for they know nothing save to 
love their own personal enjoyment. They take away and 
add according to their own inclination, not as it pleaseth 
the Eternal Truth. 

6. " In many men this is ignorance, chiefly is it so in 
those who, being little enlightened, rarely learn to love any 
one with perfect spiritual love. They are still much drawn 
by natural affection and human friendship to these or to 

* Psalm xxi. 3. "John xv. 19. •Wisd. vi. 8. 



346 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

those: and as they reckon of themselves in lower matters, 
so also do they frame imaginations of things heavenly. But 
there is an immeasurable difference between those things 
which they imperfectly imagine, and these thing* which en- 
lightened men behold through supernatural revelation. 

7. "Take heed, therefore. My son, that thou treat not 
curiously those things which surpass thy knowledge, but 
rather make this thy business and give attention to it, namely, 
that thou seek to be found, even though it be the least, in 
the Kingdom of God. And even if any one should know 
who were holier than others, or who were held greatest in 
the Kingdom of Heaven; what should that knowledge profit 
him, unless through this knowledge he should humble him- 
self before Me, and should rise up to give greater praise 
unto My name? He who considereth how great are his own 
sins, how small his virtues, and how far he is removed from 
the perfection of the Saints, doeth far more acceptably in the 
sight of God, than he who disputeth about their greatness 
or littleness. 

8. "They are altogether well content, if men would learn 
to be content, and to refrain from vain babbling. They 
glory not of their own merits, seeing they ascribe no good 
imto themselves, but all unto Me, seeing that I of my infinite 
charity have given them all things. They are filled with 
so great love of the Divinity, and with such overflowing joy, 
that no glory is lacking to them, neither can any felicity be 
lacking. All the Saints, the higher they are exalted in glory, 
the humbler are they in themselves, and the nearer and 
dearer are they unto Me. And so thou hast it written that 
they cast their crowns before God and fell on their faces 
before the Lamb, and worshipped Him that liveth for ever 
and ever.' 

9. "Many ask who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, 
who know not whether they shall be worthy to be counted 
among the least. It is a great thing to be even the least in 
Heaven, where all are great, because all shall be called, and 
shall be, the sons of God. A little one shall become a 
thousand, but the sinner being an hundred years old shall 
he accursed. For when the disciples asked who should be 

* Revelation iv. 10; t. 14. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 347 

the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, they received no 
other answer than this. Except ye be converted and become 
as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of 
Heaven. But whosoever shall humble himself as this little 
child, the same shall be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.'" 
10. Woe unto them who disdain to humble themselves 
willingly with the little children; for the low gate of the 
kingdom of Heaven will not suffer them to enter in. Woe 
also to them who are rich, who have their consolation here ;* 
because whilst the poor enter into the kingdom of God, they 
shall stand lamenting without. Rejoice ye humble, and exult 
ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God if only ye walk in 
the truth. 



CHAPTER LIX 
That al] hope and trust is to be fixed in God alone 

Lord, what is my trust which I have in this life, or what 
is my greatest comfort of all the things which are seen under 
Heaven? Is it not Thou, O Lord my God, whose mercies 
are without number? Where hath it been well with me 
without Thee? Or when could it be evil whilst Thou wert 
near? I had rather be poor for Thy sake, than rich without 
Thee. I choose rather to be a pilgrim upon the earth with 
Thee than without Thee to possess heaven. Where Thou 
art, there is heaven; and where Thou are not, behold there 
death and hell. Thou art all my desire, and therefore must 

1 groan and cry and earnestly pray after Thee. In short I 
can confide fully in none to give me ready help in necessities, 
save in Thee alone, O my God. Thou art my hope, Thou art 
my trust. Thou art my Comforter, and most faithful in all 
things. 

2. All men seek their own;^° Thou settest forward only my 
salvation and my profit, and turnest all things unto my good. 
Even though Thou dost expose me to divers temptations and 
adversities. Thou ordainest all this unto my advantage, for 
Thou are wont to prove Thy beloved ones in a thousand ways. 
In which proving Thou oughtest no less to be loved and 

* Matthew xviii. 3. * Philippians ii. 21. i" Luke vi. 



348 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

praised, than i£ Thou wert filling me full of heavenly 
consolations. 

3. In Thee, therefore, O Lord God, I put all my hope and 
my refuge, on Thee I lay all my tribulation and anguish ; be- 
cause I find all to be weak and unstable whatsoever I behold 
out of Thee. For many friends shall not profit, nor strong 
helpers be able to succour, nor prudent counsellors to give 
a useful answer, nor the books of the learned to console, 
nor any precious substance to deliver, nor any secret and 
beautiful place to give shelter, if Thou Thyself do not 
assist, help, strengthen, comfort, instruct, keep in safety. 

4. For all things which seem to belong to the attainment 
of peace and felicity are nothing when Thou art absent, 
and bring no felicity at all in reality. Therefore art Thou 
the end of all good, and the fulness of Life, and the soul of 
eloquence; and to hope in Thee above all things is the 
strongest solace of Thy servants. Mine eyes look unto Thee' 
in Thee is my trust, O my God, Father of mercies. 

5. Bless and sanctify my soul with heavenly blessing that 
it may become Thy holy habitation, and the seat of Thy 
eternal glory; and let nothing be found in the Temple of 
Thy divinity which may offend the eyes of Thy majesty. 
According to the greatness of Thy goodness and the multi- 
tude of Thy mercies look upon me, and hear the prayer of 
Thy poor servant, far exiled from Thee in the land of the 
shadow of death. Protect and preserve the soul of Thy 
least servant amid so many dangers of corruptible life, and 
by Thy grace accompanying me, direct it by the way of 
peace unto its home of perpetual light. Amen. 

a Psalm cxli. 8. 



THE FOURTH BOOK 

OF THE SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR 
A devout exhortation to the Holy Communioa 
The Voict of ChHtt 

Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and 
I will refresh you^ saith the Lord. The bread that I will 
give is My flesh which I give for the life of the world? 
Take, eat: this is My Body, which is given for you; this do 
in remembrance of Me* He that eateth My flesh and 
drinketh My blood dwelleth in Me and I in him. The zvords 
that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.*' 



CHAPTER I 
With how great reverence Christ must be received 

The Voice of the Disciple 

THESE are Thy words, O Christ, Eternal Truth; 
though not uttered at one time nor written together 
in one place of Scripture. Because therefore they 
are Thy words and true, I must gratefully and faithfully re- 
ceive them all. They are Thine, and Thou hast uttered them ; 
and they are mine also, because Thou didst speak them for my 
salvation. Gladly I receive them from Thy mouth, that they 
may be more deeply implanted in my heart. Words of such 
great grace arouse me, for they are full of sweetness and 
love ; but my own sins terrify me, and my impure conscience 
driveth me away from receiving so great mysteries. The 
sweetness of Thy words encourageth me, but the multitude 
of my faults presseth me down. 

* Matthew xi. 28. 'John vi. 51. * Matthew xxi. 26; Luke xxii. 19. 
♦John vi. 57, 63. 

349 



350 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

2. Thou commandest that I draw near to Thee with firm 
confidence, if I would have part with Thee, and that I 
receive the food of immortality, if I desire to obtain eternal 
life and glory. Come unto Me, sayest Thou, all that labour 
and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Oh, sweet and 
lovely word in the ear of the sinner, that Thou, O Lord my 
God, dost invite the poor and needy to the Communion of 
Thy most holy body and blood. But who am I, O Lord, 
that I should presume to approach unto Thee? Behold the 
heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee, and yet Thou sayest. 
Come ye all unto Me. 

3. What meaneth this most gracious condescension, this 
most lovely invitation ? How shall I dare to come, who know 
no good thing of myself, whence I might be able to presume ? 
How shall I bring Thee within my house, seeing that I so 
often have sinned in Thy most loving sight? Angels and 
Archangels stand in awe of Thee, the Saints and just men 
fear Thee, and Thou sayest. Come unto Me! Except Thou, 
Lord, hadst said it, who should believe it true? And except 
Thou hadst commanded, who should attempt to draw near? 

4. Behold, Noah, that just man, laboured for a hundred 
years in building the ark, that he might be saved with the 
few; and I, how shall I be able in one hour to prepare my- 
self to receive the Builder of the world with reverence? 
Moses, Thy servant, Thy great and especial friend, made an 
ark of incorruptible wood, which also he covered with purest 
gold, that he might lay up in it the tables of the law, and 
I, a corruptible creature, shall I dare thus easily to receive 
Thee, the Maker of the Law and the Giver of life ? Solomon, 
the wisest of the kings of Israel, was seven years building 
his magnificent temple to the praise of Thy Name, and for 
eight days celebrated the feast of its dedication, offered a 
thousand peace offerings, and solemnly brought up the Ark of 
the Covenant to the place prepared for it, with the sound 
of trumpets and great joy, and I, unhappy and poorest of 
mankind, how shall I bring Thee into my house, who scarce 
know how to spend half an hour in devotion? And oh that 
it were even one half hour worthily spent ! 

5. O my God, how earnestly these holy men strove to 
please Thee ! And alas ! how little and trifling is that which 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 3S1 

I do! how short a time do I spend, when I am disposing 
myself to Communion. Rarely altogether collected, most 
rarely cleansed from all distraction. And surely in the 
saving presence of Thy Godhead no unmeet thought ought 
to intrude, nor should any creature take possession of me, 
because it is not an Angel but the Lord of the Angels, that 
I am about to receive as my Guest. 

6. Yet there is a vast difference between the Ark of the 
Covenant with its relics, and Thy most pure Body with its 
ineffable virtues, between those sacrifices of the law, which 
were figures of things to come, and the true sacrifice of Thy 
Body, the completion of all the ancient sacrifices. 

7. Wherefore then do I not yearn more ardently after Thy 
adorable presence? Why do I not prepare myself with 
greater solicitude to receive Thy holy things, when those 
holy Patriarchs and Prophets of old, kings also and princes, 
with the whole people, manifested so great affection of 
devotion towards Thy Divine Service? 

8. The most devout king David danced with all his might 
before the Ark of God, calling to mind the benefits granted 
to his forefathers in days past; he fashioned musical instru- 
ments of various sorts, put forth Psalms, and appointed them 
to be sung with joy, played also himself ofttimes on the harp, 
being inspired with the grace of the Holy Ghost; he taught 
the people of Israel to praise God with the whole heart, and 
with unity of voice to bless and praise Him every day. If 
so great devotion was then exercised, and celebration of 
divine praise was carried on before the Ark of the Testimony, 
how great reverence and devotion ought now to be shown by 
me and all Christian people at the ministering of the Sacra- 
ment, at receiving the most precious Body and Blood of 
Christ. 

9. Many run to diverse places to visit the memorials of 
departed Saints, and rejoice to hear of their deeds and to 
look upon the beautiful buildings of their shrines. And 
behold, Thou art present here with me, O my God, Saint of 
Saints, Creator of men and Lord of the Angels. Often in 
looking at those memorials men are moved by curiosity and 
novelty, and very little fruit of amendment is borne away, 
especially when there is so much careless trifling and so 



352 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

little true contrition. But here in the Sacrament of the 
Altar, Thou art present altogether, My God, the Man Christ 
Jesus; where also abundant fruit of eternal life is given to 
every one soever that receiveth Thee worthily and devoutly. 
But to this no levity draweth, no curiosity, nor sensuality, 
only steadfast faith, devout hope, and sincere charity. 

10. O God, invisible Creator of the world, how won- 
drously dost Thou work with us, how sweetly and graciously 
Thou dealest with Thine elect, to whom Thou offerest Thy- 
self to be received in this Sacrament! For this surpasseth 
all understanding, this specially draweth the hearts of the 
devout and enkindleth their afifections. For even thy true 
faithful ones themselves, who order their whole life to 
amendment, oftentimes gain from this most excellent Sacra- 
ment great grace of devotion and love of virtue. 

11. Oh admirable and hidden grace of the Sacrament, 
which only Christ's faithful ones know, but the faithful and 
those who serve sin cannot experience ! In this Sacrament 
is conferred spiritual grace, and lost virtue is regained in the 
soul, and the beauty which was disfigured by sin returneth 
again. So great sometimes is this grace that out of the ful- 
ness of devotion given, not only the mind but also the weak 
body feeleth that more strength is supplied unto it. 

12. But greatly must we mourn and lament over our 
lukewarmness and negligence, that we are not drawn by 
greater affection to become partakers of Christ, in whom all 
the hope and the merit of those that are to be saved consist. 
For He Himself is our sanctiUcation and redemption}^ He 
is the consolation of pilgrims and the eternal fruition of the 
Saints. Therefore it is grievously to be lamented that many 
so little consider this health-giving mystery, which maketh 
heaven glad and preserveth the whole world. Alas for the 
blindness and hardness of man's heart, that he considereth 
not more this unspeakable gift, and even slippeth down 
through the daily use, into carelessness. 

13. For if this most holy Sacrament were celebrated in 
one place only, and were consecrated only by one priest in 
the whole world, with what great desire thinkest thou, would 
men be affected towards that place and towards such a priest 

^ I Corinthians i. 30. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 353 

of God, that they might behold the divine mysteries cele- 
brated? But now are many men made priests and in many 
places the Sacrament is celebrated, that the grace and love of 
God towards men might the more appear, the more widely the 
Holy Communion is spread abroad over all the world. 
Thanks be unto Thee, O good Jesus, Eternal Shepherd, who 
hast vouchsafed to refresh us, poor and exiled ones, with 
Thy precious Body and Blood, and to invite us to partake 
these holy mysteries by the invitation from Thine own mouth, 
saying. Come unto Me, ye who labour and are heavy laden, 
and I will refresh you. 



CHAPTER n 

That the greatness and charity of God is shown to men 
in the Sacrament 

The Voice of the Disciple 

Trusting in Thy goodness and great mercy, O Lord, I draw 
near, the sick to the Healer, the hungering and thirsting to 
the Fountain of life, the poverty-stricken to the King of 
heaven, the servant to the Lord, the creature to the Creator, 
the desolate to my own gentle Comforter. But whence is 
this unto me, that Thou comest unto me? Who am I that 
Thou shouldest offer me Thyself? How doth a sinner dare 
to appear before Thee? And how dost thou vouchsafe to 
come to the sinner? Thou knowest Thy servant, and Thou 
knowest that he hath in him no good thing for which Thou 
shouldest grant him this grace. I confess therefore mine 
own vileness, I acknowledge Thy goodness, I praise Thy 
tenderness, and I give Thee thanks for Thine exceeding 
great love. For Thou doest this for Thine own sake, not 
for my merits, that Thy goodness may be more manifest 
unto me. Thy charity more abundantly poured out upon me, 
and Thy humility more perfectly commended unto me. 
Therefore because this pleaseth Thee and Thou hast com- 
manded that thus it shall be, Thy condescension pleaseth me 
also; and oh that mine iniquity hinder it not. 

2. O most sweet and tender Jesus, what reverence, what 
giving of thanks is due to Thee with perpetual praise for 

12 — HC VII 



354 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

the receiving of Thy sacred Body and Blood, the dignity 
whereof no man is found able to express. But what shall 
I think upon in this Communion in approaching my Lord, 
whom I am not able worthily to honour, and nevertheless 
whom I long devoutly to receive? What shall be better and 
more healthful meditation for me, than utter humiliation of 
myself before Thee, and exaltation of Thine infinite goodness 
towards me? I praise Thee, O my God, and exalt Thee for 
evermore. I despise myself, and cast myself down before 
Thee into the deep of my vileness. 

3. Behold, Thou art the Saint of saints and I the refuse 
of sinners ; behold. Thou stoopest unto me who am not worthy 
to look upon Thee; behold, Thou comest unto me, Thou 
wiliest to be with me. Thou invitest me to Thy feast Thou 
wiliest to give me the heavenly food and bread of angels 
to eat; none other, in truth, than Thyself, The living bread, 
which didst descend from heaven; and givest life to the 
world} 

4. Behold, whence this love proceedeth ! what manner of 
condescension shineth forth herein. What great giving of 
thanks and praise is due unto Thee for these benefits ! Oh 
how salutary and profitable Thy purpose when Thou didst 
ordain this ! How sweet and pleasant the feast when Thou 
didst give Thyself for food ! Oh how admirable is thy work- 
ing, O Lord, how mighty Thy power, how unspeakable Thy 
truth ! For Thou didst speak the word, and all things were 
made ; and this is done which Thou hast commanded. 

5. A thing wonderful, and worthy of faith, and surpassing 
all the understanding of man, that Thou, O Lord my God, 
very God and very man, givest Thyself altogether to us in 
a little bread and wine, and art so our inexhaustible food. 
Thou, O Lord of all, who hast need of nothing, hast willed 
to dwell in us through Thy Sacrament. Preserve my heart 
and my body undefiled, that with a joyful and pure con- 
science I may be able very often to [celebrate, and]' receive 
to my perpetual health. Thy mysteries, which Thou hast con- 
secrated and instituted both for Thine own honour, and for 
a perpetual memorial. 

6. Rejoice, O my soul, and give thanks unto God for so 

*John tL 51. i'The words in brackets are only suitable for a priest 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 355 

great a gift and precious consolation, left unto thee in this 
vale of tears. For so oft as thou callest this mystery to 
mind and receivest the body of Christ, so often dost thou 
celebrate the work of thy redemption, and art made partaker 
of all the merits of Christ. For the charity of Christ never 
groweth less, and the greatness of His propitiation is never 
exhausted. Therefore, by continual renewal of thy spirit, 
thou oughtest to dispose thyself hereunto and to weigh the 
great mystery of salvation with attentive consideration. So 
great, new, and joyful ought it to appear to thee when thou 
comest to communion, as if on this self-same day Christ for 
the first time were descending into the Virgin's womb and 
becoming man, or hanging on the cross, suffering and dying 
for the salvation of mankind. 



CHAPTER HI 
That it IS profitable to Communicate often 

The Voice of the Disciple 

Behold I come unto Thee, O Lord, that I may be blessed 
through Thy gift, and be made joyful in Thy holy feast 
which Thou, O God, of Thy goodness hast prepared for the 
poor.^ Behold in Thee is all that I can and ought to desire. 
Thou art my salvation and redemption, my hope and strength, 
my honour and glory. Therefore rejoice the soul of Thy 
servant this day, for unto Thee, O Lord Jesus, do I lift up my 
soul." I long now to receive Thee devoutly and reverently, 
I desire to bring Thee into my house, so that with Zacchasus 
I may be counted worthy to be blessed by Thee and numbered 
among the children of Abraham. My soul hath an earnest 
desire for Thy Body, my heart longeth to be united with 
Thee. 

2. Give me Thyself and it sufficeth, for besides Thee no 
consolation availeth. Without Thee I cannot be, and with- 
out Thy visitation I have no power to live. And therefore 
I must needs draw nigh unto Thee often, and receive Thee 
for the healing of my soul, lest haply I faint by the way if 
I be deprived of heavenly food. For so Thou, most merciful 
* Psalm Ixviii. lo. ^ Psalm Ixxxvi. 4. 



356 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

Jesus, preaching to the people and healing many sick, didst 
once say, / ivill not send them away fasting to their own 
homes, lest they faint by the way.^ Deal therefore now to 
nie in like manner, for Thou left Thyself for the consolation 
of the faithful in the Sacrament. For Thou art the sweet 
refreshment of the soul, and he who shall eat Thee worthily 
shall be partaker and inheritor of the eternal glory. Neces- 
sary indeed it is for me, who so often slide backwards and 
sin, so quickly wax cold and faint, to renew, cleanse, en- 
kindle myself by frequent prayers and penitences and receiv- 
ing of Thy sacred Body and Blood lest haply by too long 
abstinence, I fall short of my holy resolutions. 

3. For the imaginatiotis of man's heart are evil from his 
youth* and except divine medicine succour him, man slideth 
away continually unto the worse. The Holy Communion 
therefore draweth us back from evil, and strengtheneth us 
for good. For if I now be so negligent and lukewarm 
when I communicate [or celebrate], how should it be with 
me, if I receive not this medicine, and sought not so great 
a help? [And though I am not every day fit nor well pre- 
pared to celebrate, I will nevertheless give diligent heed 
at due season, to receive the divine mysteries, and to become 
partaker of so great grace]. For this is the one principal 
consolation of a faithful soul, so long as it is absent from 
Thee in mortal body, that being continually mindful of its 
God, it receiveth its Beloved with devout spirit. 

4. Oh wonderful condescension of Thy pity surrounding 
us, that Thou, O Lord God, Creator and Quickener of all 
spirits, deig^est to come unto a soul so poor and weak, and 
to appease its hunger with Thy whole Deity and Humanity. 
Oh happy mind and blessed soul, to which is granted devoutly 
to receive Thee its Lord God, and in so receiving Thee to 
be filled with all spiritual joy! Oh how great a Lord doth 
it entertain, how beloved a Guest doth it bring in. how 
delightful a Companion doth it receive, how faithful a Friend 
doth it welcome, how beautiful and exalted a Spouse, above 
every other Beloved, doth it embrace. One to be loved above 
all things that can be desired ! Oh my most sweet Beloved, 
let heaven and earth and all the glory of them, be silent 
in Thy presence; seeing whatsoever praise and beauty they 

•Matthew xv. 33. * Genesis viii. a»- 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 357 

have it is of Thy gracious bounty ; and they shall never reach 
unto the loveliness of Thy Name, Whose Wisdom is infinite* 



CHAPTER IV 

That many good gifts are bestowed upon those who 
Communicate devoutly 

Tke Voice of the Disciple 

O Lord my God, prevent Thou Thy servant with the blessings 
of Thy sweetness, that I may be enabled to draw near 
worthily and devoutly to Thy glorious Sacrament. Awaken 
my heart towards Thee, and deliver me from heavy slumber. 
Visit me with Thy salvation that I may in spirit taste Thy 
sweetness, which plentifully lieth hid in this Sacrament as 
in a fountain. Lighten also mine eyes to behold this so 
great mystery, and strengthen me that I may believe it with 
undoubting faith. For it is Thy word, not human power; 
it is Thy holy institution, not the invention of man. For 
no man is found fit in himself to receive and to understand 
these things, which transcend even the wisdom of the Angels. 
What portion then shall I, unworthy sinner, who am but 
dust and ashes, be able to search into and comprehend of so 
deep a Sacrament? 

2. O Lord, in the simplicity of my heart, in good and firm 
faith, and according to Thy will, I draw nigh unto Thee 
with hope and reverence, and truly believe that Thou art 
here present in the Sacrament, God and man. Thou wiliest 
therefore that I receive Thee and unite myself to Thee in 
charity. Wherefore I beseech Thy mercy, and implore Thee 
to give me Thy special grace, to this end, that I may be 
wholly dissolved and overflow with love towards Thee, and 
no more suffer any other consolation to enter into me. For 
this most high and most glorious Sacrament is the health of 
the soul and the body, the medicine of all spiritual sickness, 
whereby I am healed of my sins, my passions are bridled, 
temptations are conquered or weakened, more grace is poured 
into me, virtue begun is increased, faith is made firm, hope is 
strengthened, and charity is enkindled and enlarged. 

3. For in this Sacrament Thou hast bestowed many good 

" Psalm cxlvii. s« 



358 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

things and still bestowest them continually on Thine elect 
who communicate devoutly, O my God, Lifter up of my 
soul, Repairer of human infirmity, and Giver of all inward 
consolation. For Thou pourest into them much consola- 
tion against all sorts of tribulation, and out of the deep 
of their own misery Thou liftest them up to the hope of Thy 
protection, and with ever new grace, dost inwardly refresh 
and enlighten them; so that they who felt themselves to be 
anxious and without affection before Communion, afterwards 
being refreshed with heavenly food and drink, find themselves 
changed for the better. And even in such wise Thou dealest 
severally with Thine elect, that they may truly ax:knowledge 
and clearly make proof that they have nothing whatsoever 
of their own, and what goodness and grace come to them 
from Thee; because being in themselves cold, hard of heart, 
indevout, through Thee they become fervent, zealous, and 
devout. For who is there coming humbly to the fountain of 
sweetness, carrieth not away thence at the least some little 
of that sweetness? Or who standing by a large fire, feeleth 
not from thence a little of its heat? And Thou art ever 
a full and overflowing fountain, a fire continually burning, 
and never going out. 

4. Wherefore if it is not suffered to me to draw from the 
fulness of the fountain, nor to drink unto satisfying, yet 
will I set my lips to the mouth of the heavenly conduit, that 
at least I may receive a small drop to quench my thirst, 
that I dry not up within my heart. And if I am not yet able 
to be altogether heavenly and so enkindled as the Cherubim 
and Seraphim, yet will I endeavour to give myself unto devo- 
tion, and to prepare my heart, that I may gain if it be but 
a little flame of the divine fire, through the humble receiving 
of the life-giving Sacrament. But whatsoever is wanting 
unto me, O merciful Jesus, Most Holy Saviour, do Thou 
of Thy kindness and grace supply, who hast vouchsafed to 
call all unto Thee, saying, Come unto me, all ye that are 
weary and heavy laden, and I will refresh you. 

5. I indeed labour in the sweat of my face, I am tormented 
with sorrow of heart, I am burdened with sins, I am dis- 
quieted with temptations, I am entangled and oppressed with 
many passions, and there is none to help me, there is none to 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 359 

deliver and ease me,- but Thou, O Lord God, my Saviour, to 
whom I commit myself and all things that are mine, that 
Thou mayest preserve me and lead me unto life eternal. 

Receive me unto the praise and glory of Thy name, who 
hast prepared Thy Body and Blood to be my meat and drink. 
Grant, O Lord God my Saviour, that with coming often to 
Thy mysteries the zeal of my devotion may increase. 



CHAPTER V 
Of the dignity of this Sacrament, and of the office of the priest 

The Voice of the Beloved 

If thou hadst angelic purity and the holiness of holy John 
the Baptist, thou wouldest not be worthy to receive or to 
minister this Sacrament. For this is not deserved by merit 
of man that a man should consecrate and minister the Sacra- 
ment of Christ, and take for food the bread of Angels. Vast 
is the mystery, and great is the dignity of the priests, to whom 
is given what is not granted to Angels. For priests only, 
rightly ordained in the church, have the power of conse- 
crating and celebrating the Body of Christ. The priest 
indeed is the minister of God, using the Word of God by 
God's command and institution; nevertheless God is there 
the principal Author and invisible Worker, that to whom 
all that He willeth is subject, and all He commandeth is 
obedient. 

2. Therefore thou must believe God Almighty in this 
most excellent Sacrament, more than thine own sense or 
any visible sign at all. And therefore with fear and rever- 
ence is this work to be approached. Take heed therefore 
and see what it is of which the ministry is committed to 
thee by the laying on of the Bishop's hand. Behold thou art 
made a priest and art consecrated to celebrate. See now 
that thou do it before God faithfully and devoutly at due 
time, and shew thyself without blame. Thou hast not light- 
ened thy burden, but art now bound with a straiter bond 
of discipline, and art pledged to a higher degree of holiness. 
A priest ought to be adorned with all virtues and to afford 
to others an example of good life. His conversation must 



360 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

not be with the popular and common ways of men, but with 
Angels in Heaven or with perfect men on earth. 

3. A priest clad in holy garments taketh Christ's place 
that he may pray unto God with all supplication and humilitx 
for himself and for the whole people. He must always 
remember the Passion of Christ. He must diligently look 
upon Christ's footsteps and fervently endeavour himself to 
follow them. He must bear meekly for God whatsoever 
ills are brought upon him by others. He must mourn for 
his own sins, and for the sins committed by others, and may 
not grow careless of prayer and holy oblation, until he 
prevail to obtain grace and mercy. When the priest cele- 
brateth, he honoureth God, giveth joy to the Angels, 
buildeth up the Church, helpeth the living, hath communion 
with the departed, and maketh himself a partaker of all good 
things. 

CHAPTER VI 

An inquiry concerning preparation for Communion 

The Voice of the Disciple 

When I consider Thy dignity, O Lord, and mine own vile- 
ness, I tremble very exceedingly, and am confounded within 
myself. For if I approach not, I fly from life; and if I in- 
trude myself unworthily, I run into Thy displeasure. What 
then shall I do, O my God, Thou helper and Counsellor in 
necessities. 

2. Teach Thou me the right way; propound unto me 
some short exercise befitting Holy Communion. For it is 
profitable to know how I ought to prepare my heart devoutly 
and reverently for Thee, to the intent that I may receive Thy 
Sacrament to my soul's health [or it may be also for the 
celebrating this so great and divine mystery], 

CHAPTER VH 
Of the examination of conscience, and purpose of amendment 

The Voice 0/ the Beloved 

Above all things the priest of God must draw nigh, with all 
humility of heart and supplicating reverence, with full faith 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 361 

and pious desire for the honour of God, to celebrate, minister, 
and receive this Sacrament. Diligently examine thy con- 
science and with all thy might with true contrition and humble 
confession cleanse and purify it, so that thou mayest feel 
no burden, nor know anything which bringeth thee remorse 
and impedeth thy free approach. Have displeasure against 
all thy sins in general, and specially sorrow and mourn be- 
cause of thy daily transgressions. And if thou have time, 
confess unto God in the secret of thine heart, all miseries of 
thine own passion. 

2. Lament grievously and be sorry, because thou art still 
so carnal and worldly, so unmortified from thy passions, so 
full of the motion of concupiscence, so unguarded in thine 
outward senses, so often entangled in many vain fancies, so 
much inclined to outward things, so negligent of internal; 
so ready to laughter and dissoluteness, so unready to weeping 
and contrition; so prone to ease and indulgence of the flesh, 
so dull to zeal and fervour; so curious to hear novelties and 
behold beauties, so loth to embrace things humble and de- 
spised ; so desirous to have many things, so grudging in giv- 
ing, so close in keeping; so inconsiderate in speaking, so 
reluctant to keep silence ; so disorderly in manners, so incon- 
siderate in actions; so eager after food, so deaf towards the 
Word of God; so eager after rest, so slow to labour; so 
watchful after tales, so sleepy towards holy watchings; so 
eager for the end of them, so wandering in attention to them ; 
so negligent in observing the hours of prayer, so lukewarm in 
celebrating, so unfruitful in communicating; so quickly dis- 
tracted, so seldom quite collected with thyself; so quickly 
moved to anger, so ready for displeasure at others; so prone 
to judging, so severe at reproving; so joyful in prosperity, 
so weak in adversity ; so often making many good resolutions 
and bringing them to so little effect. 

3. When thou hast confessed and bewailed these and thy 
other shortcomings, with sorrow and sore displeasure at 
thine own infirmity, make then a firm resolution of continual 
amendment of life and of progress in all that is good. Then 
moreover with full resignation and entire will offer thyself 
to the honour of My name on the altar of thine heart as a 
perpetual whole burnt-offering, even by faithfully presenting 



362 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

thy body and soul unto Me, to the end that thou mayest so 
be accounted worthy to draw near to offer this sacrifice of 
praise and thanksgiving to God, and to receive the Sacra- 
ment of My Body and Blood to thy soul's health. For 
there is no oblation worthier, no satisfaction greater for the 
destroying of sin, than that a man offer himself to God 
purely and entirely with the oblation of the Body and Blood 
of Christ in the Holy Communion. If a man shall have done 
what in him lieth, and shall repent him truly, then how 
often soever he shall draw nigh unto Me for pardon and 
grace, As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the 
death of a sinner, hut rather that he should he converted, 
and live. All his transgressions that he hath committed, 
they shall not he mentioned unto him.^ 



CHAPTER Vni 

Of the oblation of Christ upon the cross, and of 
resignation of self 

The Voice ot the Beloved 
As I of my own will offered myself unto God the Father on 
the Cross for thy sins with outstretched hands and naked 
body, so that nothing remained in Me that did not become 
altogether a sacrifice for the Divine propitiation; so also 
oughtest thou every day to offer thyself willingly unto Me 
for a pure and holy oblation with all thy strength and af- 
fections, even to the utmost powers of thine heart. What 
more do I require of thee than thou study to resign thyself 
altogether unto Me? Whatsoever thou givest besides thy- 
self, I nothing care for, for I ask not thy gift, but thee. 

2. As it would not be sufficient for thee if thou hadst all 
things except Me, even so whatsoever thou shalt give Me, 
if thou give Me not thyself, it cannot please Me. Offer thy- 
self to Me, and give thyself altogether for God, so shall 
thy offering be accepted. Behold I offered Myself altogether 
to the Father for thee, I give also My whole body and blood 
for food, that thou mightest remain altogether Mine and 
I thine. But if thou stand in thyself, and offer not thyself 
^ Ezckicl xriii. za, 23. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 363 

freely to My will, thy offering is not perfect, neither shall 
the union betwixt us be complete. Therefore ought the 
freewill offering of thyself into the hands of God to go 
before all thy works, if thou wilt attain liberty and grace. 
For this is the cause that so few are inwardly enlightened 
and made free, that they know not how to deny themselves 
entirely. My word standeth sure, Except a man forsake all, 
he cannot be My disciple.^ Thou therefore, if thou wilt be 
My disciple, offer thyself to Me with all thy affections. 



CHAPTER IX 

That we ought to offer ourselves and all that is ours to 
God, and to pray for all 

7%e Voice of the Disciple 

Lord, all that is in the heaven and in the earth is Thine.' I 
desire to offer myself up unto thee as a freewill offering, 
and to continue Thine for ever. Lord, in the uprightness of 
mine heart I willingly offer^ myself to Thee to-day to be Thy 
servant for ever, in humble submission and for a sacrifice 
of perpetual praise. Receive me with this holy Communion 
of Thy precious Body, which I celebrate before Thee this 
day in the presence of the Angels invisibly surrounding, 
that it may be for the salvation of me and of all Thy people. 

2. Lord, I lay before Thee at this celebration all my sins 
and offences which I have committed before Thee and Thy 
holy Angels, from the day whereon I was first able to sin 
even unto this hour; that Thou mayest consume and burn 

►them every one with the fire of Thy charity, and mayest 
do away all the stains of my sins, and cleanse my conscience 
from all offence, and restore me to Thy favour which by 
sinning I have lost, fully forgiving me all, and mercifully 
admitting me to the kiss of peace. 

3. What can I do concerning my sins, save humbly to 
confess and lament them and unceasingly to beseech Thy 
propitiation? I beseech Thee, be propitious unto me and 
hear me, when I stand before Thee, O my God. All my 
sins displease me grievously : I will never more commit them ; 

^ Luke xiv. 33. ^ i Chronicles xxix. 11. * i Chronicles xxix. 17. 



364 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

but I grieve for them and will grieve so long as I live, stead- 
fastly purposing to repent me truly, and to make restitution 
as far as I can. Forgive, O God, forgive me my sins for 
Thy holy Name's sake; save my soul, which Thou hast re- 
deemed with Thy precious blood. Behold I commit myself 
to Thy mercy, I resign myself to Thy hands. Deal with me 
according to Thy loving-kindness, not according to my 
wickedness and iniquity, 

4. I offer also unto Thee all my goodness, though it is 
exceedingly little and imperfect, that Thou mayest mend and 
sanctify it, that Thou mayest make it well pleasing and 
acceptable in Thy sight, and ever draw it on towards per- 
fection; and furthermore bring me safely, slothful and use- 
less poor creature that I am, to a happy and blessed end. 

5. Moreover I offer unto Thee all pious desires of the 
devout, necessities of parents, friends, brothers, sisters, and 
all who are dear to me, and of those who have done good to 
me, or to others for Thy love; and those who have desired 
and besought my prayers for themselves and all belonging 
to them ; that all may feel themselves assisted by Thy grace, 
enriched by consolation, protected from dangers, freed from 
pains; and that being delivered from all evils they may joy- 
fully give Thee exceeding thanks. 

6. I offer also to Thee prayers and Sacramental inter- 
cessions for those specially who have injured me in aught, 
made me sad, or spoken evil concerning me, or have caused 
me any loss or displeasure; for all those also whom I have 
at any time made sad, disturbed, burdened, and scandalized, 
by words or deeds, knowingly or ignorantly; that to all of 
us alike. Thou mayest equally pardon our sins and mutual 
offences. Take away, O Lord, from our hearts all suspicion, 
indignation, anger, and contention, and whatsoever is able 
to injure charity and diminish brotherly love. Have mercy, 
have mercy, Lord, on those who entreat Thy mercy; give 
grace to the needy ; and make us such that we may be worthy 
to enjoy Thy grace, and go forward to the life eternal. 
Amen. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 365 

CHAPTER X 

That Holy Communion is not lightly to be omitted 

The Voice of the Beloved 

Thou must frequently betake thee to the Fountain of grace 
and divine mercy, to the Fountain of goodness and all 
purity; to the end that thou mayest obtain the healing of thy 
passions and vices, and mayest be made stronger and more 
watchful against all temptations and wiles of the devil. 
The enemy, knowing what profit and exceeding strong 
remedy lieth in the Holy Communion, striveth by all means 
and occasions to draw back and hinder the faithful and 
devout, so far as he can. 

2. For when some set about to prepare themselves for 
Holy Communion, they sufifer from the more evil suggestions 
of Satan. The very evil spirit himself (as is written in 
Job), cometh among the sons of God that he may trouble 
them by his accustomed evil dealing, or make them over 
timid and perplexed ; to the intent that he. may diminish their 
afifections, or take away their faith by his attacks, if haply 
he may prevail upon them to give up Holy Communion alto- 
gether, or to come thereto with lukewarm hearts. But his 
wiles and delusions must not be heeded, howsoever wicked 
and terrible they be; but all his delusion must be cast 
back upon his own head. The wretch must be despised and 
laughed to scorn: neither must Holy Communion be omitted 
because of his insults and the inward troubles which he 
stirreth up. 

3. Often also too much carefulness or some anxiety or 
other touching confession hindereth from obtaining devotion. 
Do thou according to the counsel of wise men, and lay aside 
anxiety and scruple, because it hindereth the grace of God 
and destroyeth devotion of mind. Because of some little 
vexation or trouble do not thou neglect Holy Communion, 
but rather hasten to confess it, and forgive freely all oiifences 
committed against thee. And if thou hast offended any man, 
humbly beg for pardon, and God shall freely forgive thee. 

4. What profiteth it to put off for long time the confession 
of thy sins, or to defer Holy Communion? Cleanse thyself 



366 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

forthwith, spit out the poison with all speed, hasten to take 
the remedy, and thou shalt feel thys'elf better than if thou 
didst long defer it. If to-day thou defer it on one account, 
to-morrow perchance some greater obstacle will come, and 
so thou mayest be long time hindered from Communion and 
become more unfit. As soon as thou canst, shake thyself 
from thy present heaviness and sloth, for it profiteth nothing 
to be long anxious, to go long on thy way with heaviness 
of heart, and because of daily little obstacles to sever thy- 
self from divine things : nay it is exceeding hurtful to defer 
thy Communion long, for this commonly bringeth on great 
torpor. Alas ! there are some, lukewarm and undisciplined, 
who willingly find excuses for delaying repentance, and desire 
to defer Holy Communion, lest they should be bound to keep 
stricter watch upon themselves. 

5. Alas ! how little charity, what flagging devotion, have 
they who so lightly put off Holy Communion. How happy 
is he, how acceptable to God, who so liveth, and in such 
purity of conscience keepeth himself, that any day he could 
be ready and well inclined to communicate, if it were in 
his power, and might be done without the notice of others. 
If a man sometimes abstaineth for the sake of humility 
or some sound cause, he is to be commended for his rever- 
ence. But if drowsiness have taken hold of him, he ought 
to rouse himself and to do what in him lieth; and the Lord 
will help his desire for the good will which he hath, which 
God specially approveth. 

6. But when he is hindered by sufficient cause, yet will 
he ever have a good will and pious intention to communicate ; 
and so he shall not be lacking in the fruit of the Sacrament. 
For any devout man is able every day and every hour to 
draw near to spiritual communion with Christ to his soul's 
health and without hindrance. Nevertheless on certain days 
and at the appointed time he ought to receive the Body and 
Blood of his Redeemer with affectionate reverence, and 
rather to seek after the praise and honour of God, than his 
own comfort. For so often doth he communicate mystically, 
and is invisibly refreshed, as he devoutly calleth to mind the 
mystery of Christ's incarnation and His Passion, and is in- 
flamed with the love of Him. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 367 

7. He who only prepareth himself when a festival is at 
hand or custom compelleth, will too often be unprepared. 
Blessed is he who offereth himself to God for a whole burnt- 
offering, so often as he celebrateth or communicateth ! Be 
not too slow nor too hurried in thy celebrating, but preserve 
the good received custom of those with whom thou livest. 
Thou oughtest not to produce weariness and annoyance in 
others, but to observe the received custom, according to the 
institution of the elders; and to minister to the profit of- 
others rather than to thine own devotion or feeling. 



CHAPTER XI 

That the Body and Blood of Christ and the Holy Scriptures are 
most necessary to a faithful soul 

The Voice 0/ the Disciple 

MOST sweet Lord Jesus, how great is the blessedness of 
the devout soul that feedeth with Thee in Thy banquet, 
where there is set before it no other food than Thyself its 
only Beloved, more to be desired than all the desires of the 
heart? And to me it would verily be sweet to pour forth 
my tears in Thy presence from the very bottom of my heart, 
and with the pious Magdalene to water Thy feet with my 
tears. But where is this devotion ? Where the abundant flow- 
ing of holy tears? Surely in Thy presence and in the pres- 
ence of the holy Angels my whole heart ought to burn and 
to weep for joy; for I have Thee in the Sacrament verily 
present, although hidden under other form. 

2. For in Thine own Divine brightness, mine eyes could 
not endure to behold Thee, neither could the whole world 
stand before the splendour of the glory of Thy Majesty. In 
this therefore Thou hast consideration unto my weakness, 
that Thou hidest Thyself under the Sacrament I verily ' 
possess and adore Him whom the Angels adore in heaven; 

1 yet for a while by faith, but they by sight and without a 
veil. It is good for me to be content with the light of true 
faith, and to walk therein until the day of eternal brightness 
dawn, and the shadows of figures flee away.^ But when 

^Cant. ii. 17. 



368 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

that which is perfect is come, the using of Sacraments shall 
cease, because the Blessed in heavenly glory have no need of 
Sacramental remedy. For they rejoice unceasingly in the 
presence of God, beholding His glory face to face, and 
being changed from glory to glory' of the infinite God, they 
taste the Word of God made flesh, as He was in the begin- 
ning and remaineth for everlasting. 

3. When I think on these wondrous things, even spiritual 
comfort whatsoever it be becometh sore weariness to me; 
for so long as I see not openly my Lord in His own Glory, 
I count for nothing all which I behold and hear in the world. 
Thou, O God, art my witness that nothing is able to comfort 
me, no creature is able to give me rest, save Thou, O my 
God, whom I desire to contemplate everlastingly. But this 
is not possible, so long as I remain in this mortal state. 
Therefore ought I to set myself unto great patience, and 
submit myself unto Thee in every desire. For even Thy 
Saints, O Lord, who now rejoice with Thee in the kingdom 
of heaven, waited for the coming of Thy glory whilst they 
lived here, in faith and great glory. What they believed, 
that believe I ; what they hoped, I hope ; whither they have 
attained to, thither through Thy grace hope I to come. I 
will walk meanwhile in faith, strengthened by the examples 
of the Saints. I will have also holy books for comfort 
and for a mirror of life, and above them all Thy most 
holy Body and Blood shall be for me a special remedy and 
refuge. 

4. For two things do I feel to be exceedingly necessary to 
me in this life, without which this miserable life would be 
intolerable to me; being detained in the prison of this body, 
I confess that I need two things, even food and light. Thou 
hast therefore given to me who am so weak, Thy sacred 
Body and Blood, for the refreshing of my soul and body, 
and hast set Thy Word for a lantern to my feet.* Without 
these two I could not properly live ; for the Word of God is 
the light of my soul, and Thy Sacrament the bread of life. 
These may also be called the two tables, placed on this 
side and on that, in the treasury of Thy holy Church. One 
table is that of the Sacred Altar, bearing the holy bread, that 

' 2 Corinthians iii. 18. * Psalm cxix. 105. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 369 

is the precious Body and Blood of Christ; the other is the 
table of the Divine Law, containing holy doctrine, teaching 
the true faith, and leading steadfastly onwards even to that 
which is within the veil, where the Holy of Holies is. 

5. Thanks be unto Thee, O Lord Jesus, Light of Light 
everlasting, for that table of holy doctrine which Thou has 
furnished unto us by Thy servants the Prophets and Apostles 
and other teachers. Thanks be to Thee, O Creator and 
Redeemer of men, who to make known Thy love to the whole 
world has prepared a great supper, in which Thou hast set 
forth for good not the typical lamb, but Thine own most 
Holy Body and Blood; making all Thy faithful ones joyful 
with this holy banquet and giving them to drink the cup 
of salvation, wherein are all the delights of Paradise, and 
the holy Angels do feed with us, and with yet happier 
sweetness. 

6. Oh how great and honourable is the office of the priests, 
to whom it is given to consecrate the Sacrament of the Lord 
of majesty with holy words, to bless it with the lips, to hold 
it in their hands, to receive it with their own mouth, and 
to administer it to others ! Oh how clean ought those hands 
to be, how pure the mouth, how holy the body, how unspotted 
the heart of the priest, to whom so often the Author of 
purity entereth in ! From the mouth of the priest ought 
naught tp proceed but what is holy, what is honest and 
profitable, because he so often receiveth the Sacrament of 
Christ. 

7. His eyes ought to be single and pure, seeing they are 
wont to look upon the Body of Christ; the hands should be 
pure and lifted towards heaven, which are wont to hold 
within them the Creator of heaven and earth. To priests 
is it specially said in the Law, Be ye holy, for I the Lord your 
God am holy.*" 

8. Assist us with Thy grace, O Almighty God, that we who 
have taken upon us the priestly office, may be able to con- 
verse worthily and devoutly with Thee in all purity and good 
conscience. And if we are not able to have our conversation 
in such innocency of life as we ought, yet grant unto us 
worthily to lament the sins which we have committed, and 

* Leviticus xix. 2. 



370 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

in the spirit of humility and full purpose of a good will, 
to serve Thee more earnestly for the future. 



CHAPTER XII 

That he who is about to Communicate with Christ ought to 

prepcire himself with great diligence 

Tk* Voice of the Beloved 

I AM the Lover of purity, and Giver of sanctity. I seek 
a pure heart, and there is the place of My rest. Prepare for 
Me the larger upper room furnished, and / will keep the 
Passover at thy house with my disciples} If thou vk^ilt that 
I come unto thee and abide with thee, purge out the old 
leaven,' and cleanse the habitation of thy heart. Shut out 
the whole world, and all the throng of sins ; sit as a sparrow 
alone upon the house-top' and think upon thy transgressions 
with bitterness of thy soul. For everyone that loveth pre- 
pareth the best and fairest place for his beloved, because 
hereby the affection of him that entertaineth his beloved is 
known. 

2. Yet know thou that thou canst not make suflBcient 
preparation out of the merit of any action of thine, even 
though thou shouldest prepare thyself for a whole year, 
and hadst nothing else in thy mind. But out of My tender- 
ness and grace alone art thou permitted to draw nigh unto My 
table ; as though a beggar were called to a rich man's dinner, 
and had no other recompense to offer him for the benefits 
done unto him, but to humble himself and to give him thanks. 
Do therefore as much as lieth in thee, and do it diligently, 
not of custom, nor of necessity, but with fear, reverence, 
and affection, receive the Body of thy beloved Lord God, 
who vouchsafeth to come unto thee. I am He who hath 
called thee; I commanded it to be done; I will supply what 
is lacking to thee; come and receive Me. 

3. When I give the grace of devotion, give thanks unto 
thy God; it is not because thou art worthy, but because I 
had mercy on thee. If thou hast not devotion, but rather 
feelest thyself dry, be instant in prayer, cease not to groan 

* Mark xlv. 14, 15. 'i Corinthians v. 7. "Psalm cii. 7. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 371 

and knock; cease not until thou prevail to obtain some 
crumb or drop of saving grace. Thou hast need of Me, I 
have no need of thee. Nor dost thou come to sanctify Me, 
but I come to sanctify thee and make thee better. Thou 
comest that thou mayest be sanctified by Me, and be united 
to Me ; that thou mayest receive fresh grace, and be kindled 
anew to amendment of life. See that thou neglect not this 
grace, but prepare thy heart with all diligence, and re- 
ceive thy Beloved unto thee. 

4. But thou oughtest not only to prepare thyself for 
devotion before Communion, thou must also keep thyself 
with all diligence therein after receiving the Sacrament ; nor 
is less watchfulness needed afterwards, than devout prepa- 
ration beforehand: for good watchfulness afterwards be- 
cometh in turn the best preparation for the gaining more 
grace. For hereby is a man made entirely indisposed to 
good, if he immediately return from Communion to give 
himself up to outward consolations. Beware of much speak- 
ing; remain in a secret place, and hold communion with thy 
God; for thou hast Him whom the whole world cannot take 
away from thee. I am He to whom thou oughtest wholly 
to give thyself; so that now thou mayest live not wholly 
in thyself, but in Me, free from all anxiety. 



CHAPTER Xni 

That the devout soul ought with the whole heart to yearn after 
union with Christ in the Sacrament 

The Voice of the Disciple 

Who shall grant unto me, O Lord, that I may find Thee 
alone, and open all my heart unto Thee, and enjoy Thee 
as much as my soul desireth; and that no man may hence- 
forth look upon me, nor any creature move me or have 
respect unto me, but Thou alone speak unto me and I unto 
Thee, even as beloved is wont to speak unto beloved, and 
friend to feast with friend? For this do I pray, this do I 
long for, that I may be wholly united unto Thee, and may 
withdraw my heart from all created things, and by means 
of Holy Communion and frequent celebration may learn 



372 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

more and more to relish heavenly and eternal things. Ah, 
Lord God, when shall I be entirely united and lost in Thee, 
and altogether forgetful of myself? Thou in me, and I in 
Thee;^ even so grant that we may in like manner continue 
together in one. 

2. Verily Thou art my Beloved, the choicest among ten 
thousand,^ in whom my soul delighteth to dwell all the days 
of her life. Verily Thou art my Peacemaker, in Whom is 
perfect peace and true rest, apart from Whom is labour and 
sorrow and infinite misery. Verily Thou art a God that 
hidest Thyself, and Thy counsel is not with the wicked, but 
Thy Word is with the humble and the simple. O how sweet, 
O Lord, is Thy spirit, who that Thou mightest manifest Thy 
sweetness towards Thy children, dost vouchsafe to refresh 
them with the bread which is full of sweetness, which cometh 
down from heaven. Verily there is no other nation so great, 
which hath its gods drawing nigh to them, as Thou, our God, 
art present unto all Thy faithful ones,^ unto whom for their 
daily solace, and for lifting up their heart unto heaven. 
Thou givest Thyself for their food and delight. 

3. For what other nation is there so renowned as the 
Christian people? Or what creature is so beloved under 
heaven as the devout soul to which God entereth in, that he 
may feed it with His glorious flesh ? O unspeakable grace ! 
O wonderful condescension! O immeasurable love specially 
bestowed upon men! But what reward shall I give unto 
the Lord for this grace, for charity so mighty? There is 
nothing which I am able to present more acceptable than to 
give my heart altogether unto God, and to join it inwardly 
to Him. Then all my inward parts shall rejoice, when my 
soul shall be perfectly united unto God. Then shall He say 
unto me, " If thou wilt be with Me, I will be with thee." 
And I will answer Him, " Vouchsafe, O Lord, to abide with 
me, I will gladly be with Thee ; this is my whole desire, even 
that my heart be united unto Thee." 

^Jobn XV. 4. 'Cant v. 10. * Deuteroaomy iv. 7. 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 373 



CHAPTER XIV 

Of the fervent desire of certain devout persons to receive 
the Body and Blood of Christ 

The Voice, of the Disciple 

HOiv great is the abundance of Thy sweetness, O Lord, 
•which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee. When 

1 call to mind some devout persons who draw nigh to Thy 
Sacrament, O Lord, with the deepest devotion and affection, 
then very often I am confounded in myself and blush for 
shame, that I approach Thine altar and table of Holy Com- 
munion so carelessly and coldly, that I remain so dry and 
without affection, that I am not wholly kindled with love 
before Thee, my God, nor so vehemently drawn and affected 
as many devout persons have been, who out of the very 
earnest desire of the Communion, and tender affection of 
heart, could not refrain from weeping, but as it were with 
mouth of heart and body alike panted inwardly after Thee, 
O God, O Fountain of Life, having no power to appease or 
satiate their hunger, save by receiving Thy Body with all 
joyfulness and spiritual eagerness. 

2. O truly ardent faith of those, becoming a very proof of 
Thy Sacred Presence! For they verily know their Lord 
in the breaking of bread, whose heart so ardently burneth 
within them^ when Jesus walketh with them by the way. Ah 
me ! far from me for the most part is such love and devotion 
as this, such vehement love and ardour. Be merciful unto 
me, O Jesus, good, sweet, and kind, and grant unto Thy poor 
suppliant to feel sometimes, in Holy Communion, though it 
be but a little, the cordial affection of Thy love, that my 
faith may grow stronger, my hope in Thy goodness increase, 
and my charity, once kindled within me by the tasting of the 
heavenly manna, may never fail. 

3. But Thy mercy is able even to grant me the grace 
which I long for, and to visit me most tenderly with the 
spirit of fervour when the day of Thy good pleasure shall 
come. For, although I burn not with desire so vehement as 
theirs who are specially devout towards Thee, yet, through 

* Luke xxiv. 32. 



374 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

Thy grace, I have a desire after that greatly inflamed desire, 
praying and desiring to be made partaker with all those who 
so fervently love Thee, and to be numbered among their 
holy company. 

CHAPTER XV 

That the grace of devotion is acquired by humility 
and self-denial 

The Voice of the Beloved 

Thou oughtest to seek earnestly the grace of devotion, to 
ask it fervently, to wait for it patiently and faithfully, to 
receive it gratefully, to preserve it humbly, to work with 
it diligently, and to leave to God the time and manner 
of heavenly visitation until it come. Chiefly oughtest thou 
to humble thyself when thou feelest inwardly little or no 
devotion, yet not to be too much cast down, nor to grieve 
out of measure. God ofttimes giveth in one short moment 
what He hath long time denied ; He sometimes giveth at the 
end what at the beginning of prayer He hath deferred to 
give. 

2. H grace were always given immediately, and were at 
hand at the wish, it would be hardly bearable to weak man. 
Wherefore the grace of devotion is to be waited for with 
a good hope and with humble patience. Yet impute it to 
thyself and to thy sins when it is not given, or when it is 
mysteriously taken away. It is sometimes a small thing which 
hindereth and hideth grace; (if indeed that ought to be 
called small and not rather great, which hindereth so great 
a good) ; but if thou remove this, be it small or great, and 
perfectly overcome it, thou wilt have what thou hast asked. 

3. For immediately that thou hast given thyself unto God 
with all thine heart, and hast sought neither this nor that ac- 
cording to thine own will and pleasure, but hast altogether 
settled thyself in Him, thou shalt find thyself united and at 
peace; because nothing shall give thee so sweet relish and 
delight, as the good pleasure of the Divine will. Whoso- 
ever therefore shall have lifted up his will unto God with 
singleness of heart, and shall have delivered himself from 
every inordinate love or dislike of any created thing, he 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 375 

will be the most fit for receiving grace, and worthy of the 
gift of devotion. For where the Lord findeth empty vessels,"^ 
there giveth He His blessing. And the more perfectly a man 
forsaketh things which cannot profit, and the more he dieth 
to himself,, the more quickly doth grace come, the more 
plentifully doth it enter in, and the higher doth it lift up the 
free heart. 

4. Then shall he see, and flow together, and wonder, 
and his heart shall be enlarged within him,* because the hand 
of the Lord is with him, and he hath put himself wholly in 
His hand, even for ever. Lo, thus shall the man be blessed, 
that seeketh God with all his heart, and receiveth not his 
soul in vain. This man in receiving the Holy Eucharist 
obtaineth the great grace of Divine Union; because he hath 
not regard to his own devotion and comfort, but, above all 
devotion and comfort, to the glory and honour of God. 



CHAPTER XVI 

That we ought to lay open our necessities to Christ and 
to require His Grace 

71u Voice ot the Disciple 

MOST sweet and loving Lord, whom now I devoutly desire 
to receive. Thou knowest my infirmity and the necessity 
which I suffer, in what evils and vices I lie; how often 

1 am weighed down, tempted, disturbed, and defiled. I come 
unto Thee for remedy, I beseech of Thee consolation 
and support. I speak unto Thee who knowest all things, 
to whom all my secrets are open, and who alone art 
able perfectly to comfort and help me. Thou knowest what 
good thing I most stand in need of, and how poor T am in 
virtues. 

2. Behold, I stand poor and naked before Thee, requiring 
grace, and imploring mercy. Refresh the hungry suppliant, 
kindle my coldness with the fire of Thy love, illuminate my 
blindness with the brightness of Thy presence. Turn thou 
all earthly things into bitterness for me, all grievous and 
contrary things into patience, all things worthless and cre- 
1 2 Kings iv. ^ Isaiah Ix. 5. 



376 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

ated into contempt and oblivion. Lift up my heart unto Thee 
in Heaven, and suffer me not to wander over the earth. 
Be Thou alone sweet unto me from this day forward for 
ever, because Thou alone art my meat and drink, my love 
and joy, my sweetness and my whole good. 

3. Oh that Thou wouldest altogether by Thy presence, 
kindle, consume, and transform me into Thyself; that I may 
be made one spirit with Thee, by the grace of inward union, 
and the melting of earnest love ! Suffer me not to go away 
from Thee hungry and dry; but deal mercifully with me, 
as oftentimes Thou hast dealt wondrously with Thy saints. 
What marvel if I should be wholly kindled from Thee, and 
in myself should utterly fail, since Thou art fire always 
burning and never failing, love purifying the heart and en- 
lightening the understanding. 



CHAPTER XVH 
Of fervent love and vehement desire of receiving Christ 
The Voice 0/ the Disciple 

With the deepest devotion and fervent love, with all af- 
fection and fervour of heart, I long to receive Thee, O Lord, 
even as many Saints and devout persons have desired Thee 
in communicating, who were altogether well pleasing to 
Thee by their sanctity of life, and dwelt in all ardent de- 
votion. O my God, Eternal Love, my whole Good, Happi- 
ness without measure, I long to receive Thee with the most 
vehement desire and becoming reverence which any Saint 
ever had or could have. 

2. And although I be unworthy to have all those feelings 
of devotion, yet do I offer Thee the whole affection of my 
heart, even as though I alone had all those most grateful 
inflamed desires. Yea, also, whatsoever things a pious mind 
is able to conceive and long for, all these with the deepest 
veneration and inward fervour do I offer and present unto 
Thee. I desire to reserve nothing unto myself, but freely 
and entirely to offer myself and all that I have unto Thee 
for a sacrifice. O Lord my God, my Creator and Reedemer ! 
with such affection, reverence, praise, and honour, with such 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 377 

gratitude, worthiness, and love, with such faith, hope, and 
purity do I desire to receive Thee this day, as Thy most 
blessed Mother, the glorious Virgin Mary, received and 
desired Thee, when she humbly and devoutly answered the 
Angel who brought unto her the glad tidings of the mystery 
of the Incarnation. Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it 
unto me according to thy tvord.^ 

3. And as Thy blessed forerunner, the most excellent of 
Saints, John Baptist, being full of joy in Thy presence, leapt 
while yet in the womb of his mother, for joy in the Holy 
Ghost; and afterwards discerning Jesus walking amongst 
men, humbled himself exceedingly, and said, with devout 
affection. The friend of the bridegroom, who standcth and 
heareth him, rejoiccth greatly because of the bridegroom's 
voice f even so I wish to be inflamed with great and holy 
desires, and to present myself unto Thee with my whole 
heart. Whence also, on behalf of myself and of all com- 
mended to me in prayer, I offer and present imto Thee the 
jubilation of all devout hearts, their ardent affections, their 
mental ecstasies, and supernatural illuminations and heavenly 
visions, with all the virtues and praises celebrated and to 
be celebrated by every creature in heaven and earth ; to 
the end that by all Thou mayest worthily be praised and 
glorified for ever. 

4. Receive my prayers, O Lord my God, and my desires 
of giving Thee infinite praise and unbounded benediction, 
which, according to the multitude of Thine unspeakable 
greatness, are most justly due unto Thee. These do I give 
Thee, and desire to give every day and every moment; and 
with beseechings and affectionate desires I call upon all 
celestial spirits and all Thy faithful people to join with me 
in rendering Thee thanks and praises. 

5. Let all peoples, nations, and tongues praise Thee, and 
magnify Thy holy and sweet-sounding Name, with highest 
jubilations and ardent devotion. And let all who reverently 
and devoutly celebrate Thy most high Sacrament, and receive 
it with full assurance of faith, be accounted worthy to find 
grace and mercy with Thee, and intercede with all sup- 
plication for me a sinner ; and when they shall have attained 

1 Luke i. 33. ^ John iii. 29. 



378 THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 

unto their wished-for devotion and joyous union with Thee, 
and shall depart full of comfort and wondrously refreshed 
from Thy holy, heavenly table, let them vouchsafe to be mind- 
ful of me, for I am poor and needy. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

That a man should not be a curious searcher of the sacrament, but 
a humble imitator of Christ, submitting his sense to holy faith 

The Voice of the Beloved 

Thou must take heed of curious and useless searching into 
this most profound Sacrament, if thou wilt not be plunged 
into the abyss of doubt. He that is a searcher of Majesty 
shall be oppressed by the glory thereof.^ God is able to do 
more than man can understand. A pious and humble search 
after truth is to be allowed, when it is always ready to be 
taught, and striving to walk after the wholesome opinions 
of the fathers. 

2. Blessed is the simplicity which leaveth alone the 
difficult paths of questionings, and followeth the plain and 
firm steps of God's commandments. Many have lost de- 
votion whilst they sought to search into deeper things. 
Faith is required of thee, and a sincere life, not loftiness of 
intellect, nor deepness in the mysteries of God. If thou 
understandest not nor comprehendest the things which are 
beneath thee, how shalt thou comprehend those which are 
above thee? Submit thyself unto God, and humble thy sense 
to faith, and the light of knowledge shall be given thee, as 
shall be profitable and necessary unto thee. 

3. There are some who are grievously tempted concern- 
ing faith and the Sacrament; but this is not to be imputed 
to themselves but rather to the enemy. Care not then for ' 
this, dispute not with thine own thoughts, nor make answer 
to the doubts which are cast into thee by the devil ; but be- 
lieve the words of God, believe His Saints and Prophets, 
and the wicked enemy shall flee from thee. Often it profiteth 
much, that the servant of God endureth such things. For 
the enemy tempteth not unbelievers and sinners, because he 

* Proverbs xxv. 2j (Vulg.). 



n^ 



THE IMITATION OF CHRIST 379 

already hath secure possession of them ; but he tempteth and 
harasseth the faithful and devout by various means. 

4. Go forward therefore with simple and undoubting 
faith, and draw nigh unto the Sacrament with supplicating 
reverence. And whatsoever thou art not enabled to under- 
stand, that commit without anxiety to Almighty God. God 
deceiveth thee not; he is deceived who believeth too much 
in himself. God walketh with the simple, revealeth Himself 
to the humble, giveth understanding to babes, openeth the 
sense to pure minds, and hideth grace from the curious and 
proud. Human reason is weak and may be deceived; but 
true faith cannot be deceived. 

5. All reason and natural investigation ought to follow 
faith, not to precede, nor to break it. For faith and love do 
here especially take the highest place, and work in hidden 
ways in this most holy and exceeding excellent Sacrament. 
God who is eternal and incomprehensible, and of infinite 
power, doth great and inscrutable things in heaven and in 
earth, and His wonderful works are past finding out. If the 
works of God were of such sort that they might easily be 
comprehended by human reason, they should no longer be 
called wonderful or unspeakable. 



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Augustinus, Aurelius, Saint, 
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The Confessions of St. 
Augustine